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By Rick Sallinger

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – It sounds like the storyline from a horror movie.

Exhibit A, video of a rat crawling out from beneath a dishwasher.

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(credit: CBS)

If it was just one it would be bad enough, but it was one of many described as an infestation at the Jewell Park Apartments in Lakewood.

The apartments are located on Jewell Avenue between Wadsworth Boulevard and Kipling Parkway.

“It’s definitely not safe to go in there. It’s contaminated.”

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Maryah Medina with CBS4’s Rick Sallinger (credit: CBS)

Maryah Medina suggested to CBS4’s Rick Sallinger that he put on a breathing mask before going inside her unit. She warned us of the smell. But what she described was enough to make one’s skin crawl.

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(credit: CBS)

“This is where we had to sleep to keep the rats off of us night with mosquito nets off of the tent and chewing thought they have been chewing through everything,” she said.

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Maryah Medina (credit: CBS)

Putting a pillow inside the tent was not enough comfort her two year-old-son Alyas.

“He has woken up in the night screaming and won’t let us put him down saying there is a rat in my crib,” Maryah said.

She said she called the landlord who sent out exterminators to try to remedy the problem. Sticky tape, pepper and rat traps were placed beneath the sink.

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(credit: CBS)

CBS4 did not see any of these rodents during a visit, but neighbors assured us the rats had defiantly been around.

The building is operated by WheelHouse Apartments. The company issued a statement stating it let Maryah break her lease and offered her another place to live.

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(credit: CBS)

But for her, that wasn’t good enough.

“They put bait behind our couch and said the rats should be dying in a few days and they did not so we ended up leaving.”

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Maryah Medina (credit: CBS)

She says Wheelhouse did not allow her to break her lease until she demanded it. She adds the place they offered for her to move was smaller and more expensive.

She has moved to a unit operated by another company.

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(credit: CBS)

Full Wheelhouse Apartments Statement:

Our team understands the importance of providing a safe and clean living environment.  When concerns do arise we take pride in our ability to resolve issues in a quick and fair manner.

The tenant first reported that there was a rodent problem on 9/2.  We promptly scheduled a professional pest control vendor.  Denver Pest and Wildlife Solutions treated the apartment on 9/8.  The tenant was concerned with treatment options presented due to a pet, and as such only bait stations were deployed.  The bait stations were placed in areas that were inaccessible to pets and children; this was done in accordance with industry standards for rat abatement.

Due to the rodent issue, on 9/11 we offered the tenant the options to either transfer to a different apartment community or terminate their lease without penalty.  On 9/19 the tenant did confirm plans to vacate the apartment without penalty on 9/25.

Following the initial treatment a member of our team followed up on 9/13 and again on 9/18.  During the 9/18 visit, the tenant’s mother told our maintenance technician that they have had no recent rodent activity and that they were planning to move out within the next week.

It is unfortunate that this isolated situation occurred.  Our team communicated with the tenant and actively treated the problem, additionally we offered the tenant fair and reasonable options.  We will follow up on any additional treatments needed for this apartment and have not had any other rodent activity reported at this community.

Medina’s Response To Wheelhouse’s Statement:

Wheelhouse Apartments’ response is not accurate, and it appears that they have no intentions of properly decontaminating the unit in order for us to remove our personal property safely.

1) Wheelhouse did not respond to my initial pest control complaint on 9/2.  Maintenance responded after my second complaint on 9/7.

2) Wheelhouse did not offer us the option to relocate or break our lease until 9/11 when I went to their office demanding that they do something to help us.  Their “reasonable accommodations” to transfer to another one of their properties and pay higher rent was not reasonable for me since I had no intention of relocating prior to the infestation.

3) Pest control did not only put bait boxes out, but they also put packets of poison inside of our couch and behind it.

4) My mother did not state that there was not rodent activity.  She was in the unit trying to pack some items while I was working when maintenance came on 9/18 and she informed him that the smell of dying rodents was unbearable.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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