Punta Gorda neighbors upset about vacant home infested by rats and snakes

A vacant home in a Southwest Florida neighborhood is being taken over by rats and snakes. The problem at the empty house is also carrying over to neighbor’s homes. They are fed up with the vermin and slithering creatures and are demanding something be done.

Neighbors call an abandoned home in Punta Gorda “The Rat House.” The home near neighbors along Belaire Court is filled with pests of all shapes and sizes.

“We’ve seen them running along the roofline and along the driveway,” neighbor Tina Schabbel said.

Neighbors say this has been happening at this home for more than a decade.

“We have to keep our landscaping trimmed, and it’s not done on a regular basis at this house,” neighbor Sharon Rommel said.

The home may be vacant, but it has amenities the rats can enjoy.

“There’s fruit trees on the property, and the rats eat the fruit,” Schabbel said.

And the home is starting to attract more unwelcome guests.

“Snakes, a lot of snakes,” Rommel said. “Usually we see the rats running in the back.”

And the rats have been recorded damaging nearby properties, so neighbors are bringing the issue to the city.

Punta Gorda has cleaned up the landscaping since 2014, which costs taxpayers between $350 and $600 each session. Now, the city will dish out another $460 for pest control.

“It is an embarrassment that this house is allowed to ruin, be a blight on this beautiful street,” Rommel said.

The city says there is a $188,000 lien on the home and expects to file for foreclosure before the end of the month. We reached out to the listed property owner but did not make contact.

Neighbors are happy to see some progress. But they said they won’t let the issue go either if progress doesn’t persist.

“We will keep hammering the city,” Rommel said.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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