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Residents want action taken on rat-infested house in Hunter's Valley subdivision

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Residents say rats and snakes are crawling and slithering their way from a vacant house next door. Neighbors are complaining about a foreclosed home that's become an eyesore and potential health hazard in northwest Harris County.

From the outside, the problem may not be visible at first. But people who live around the house say the trouble starts in the back yard and has spread down the street.

In the heart of Hunter's Valley, a neighborhood often considered a hidden treasure, now resides trash.

"We've had rats, we've had snakes come through," said Chris Schwilling.

She lives next door to a home on Forest Lodge Drive, foreclosed on years ago and left vacant and in limbo ever since.

"I don't want to go out there. I don't want to garden. I don't know what's out there, so I don't want to put my hands anywhere," Schwilling said.

The problem, neighbors say, starts in the backyard with a rat-infested swimming pool left uncovered for years.

"Because I've seen them in the pool, and they swim," neighbor Arvada Pankiw said.

Four days ago, the Health Department's environmental team required the homeowner, Garza Properties, to lay the black vinyl cover over the pool. But for neighbors, that is just not enough.

"The puddling that you'll notice is just going to create another water issue that's tempting for the animals, and I think it started to tear due to the wind yesterday," said Pankiw.

They want the problem property fixed or sold to a better buyer.

"They're trying to sell their house across the road. Neighbors are thinking of selling, we're thinking of selling, we can't with this in the middle of it," Schwilling said.

We did some digging and found Garza Properties out of Colorado Springs bought this house at a county auction in June for $40,000. Their phone number is disconnected. They show an office in Seabrook. That number goes to a tax office. But the homeowners association says they are up to date on all payments.
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