Rats in the walls at Flamingo Crest HOA

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Rats in the walls at Flamingo Crest HOA

By Darcy Spears. CREATED Oct 31, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Something smells like a rat in one east valley homeowner's association, and residents say it's their HOA board.

The neighborhood's rodent problem is so bad, one man claims he can't even get a solid night's sleep.

Chief Investigator Darcy Spears chases down answers and board members in the latest HOA Hall of Shame.

David Lathrop/board member: No camera and I have no comment.  Period.
Darcy: No camera and no?
David: Nothing.  No. No camera, no comment, period.
Darcy: It doesn't look good when you walk away from a problem that your homeowners have.

Kevin Ellis says the Flamingo Crest HOA board has been running from his problem for years.

Darcy: How would you describe this fight?
Kevin: It's horrible!  Dealing with this homeowner's association board of directors is worse than dealing with Baby Mama drama.

Harsh words drawn from years of frustration... Just trying to get the board to do their job.

"There's no hell like dealing with an ignorant HOA," Kevin says, adding that they've been turning a blind eye to a threat to his family's health and welfare.

"I told them it has been hell listening to things running inside of your walls, run over your head, you can't relax, you're embarrassed to have company in your house."

Kevin describes the rat problem at Flamingo Crest as "nerve-wracking."

And it's well-documented--detailed in community newsletters dating back to 2011 and in notarized letters from multiple homeowners.

"I'm scared for my grandkids," says Kevin's mom, Cynthia.

His parents get the heebie jeebies "every time we come here" to visit from New Jersey.

"It's like a noise," says Cynthia.  "A real hard scratching, you know, and then, you know, I get scared, because I wonder if they eventually can come through the house."

Kevin believes the rat problem originated about three years ago with a tree-trimming project. 

He thinks the HOA had their trimmers cut part of a rat-infested tree, and then the rats scattered throughout the community.

The HOA's pest control company placed bait boxes all around the neighborhood off Flamingo and Eastern.

But Kevin says the boxes aren't nearly enough, because the rats have already found a way in.

So how are the rats getting inside the building? 

Kevin thinks they're coming from a tree right next to his building, jumping over to the roof, and then entering through the gap where the roof and the stucco meet. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, rats can enter through holes the size of a half-dollar, mice through holes the size of a nickel.

An exterminator Kevin hired told him the logical fix is to seal the building and let the rats die in the walls.

That's all Kevin is asking for.

And both a state referee and arbitrator found he's entitled to it.

To get those rulings, "It's cost me about $1400," says Kevin.  "That's what I had to pay out with the non-binding arbitration."

And that's on top of the $200 a month he and his neighbors each pay in HOA dues.

In late 2012, Kevin sought resolution from the Nevada Real Estate Division's referee program.

The referee's non-binding ruling was in Kevin's favor.

He wrote "the HOA's continuing failure over the past two and a half years to address this problem is horrifying."

And though the property manager testified that the board approved a $200,000 re-roofing project, it clearly hasn't been done on Kevin's building.

Remember the board member who walked away from us at the beginning of our story?  We tried to ask him about that roofing project.

Darcy: Can you just tell me why you guys haven't fixed the roof to seal it off when you told the State you'd do it back in December of last year?
David: I said no comment.

When no action was taken on the referee's decision, Kevin took the next step and went through non-binding arbitration in July of this year.

The decision reads, "After three years, it should be rather obvious that the rat bait stations are NOT working effectively" and the HOA should pursue "more intensive measures... to combat entrenched rats."  Including "sealing affected buildings and repairing roofs with any size holes."

"They had to spend at least two or three thousand dollars on this non-binding arbitration," says Kevin. "What the hell kind of board is gonna waste money on that when they could take money that the homeowners are putting inside of their budget and dues to fix the damn building instead of playing around like that?!"

We tried to ask Board Treasurer Rose Perri that question when she stopped in her car to talk to us.

She claims, "We have taken care of it."

We ask her to come to Kevin's buildings to look at the holes, but she won't.

"I don't want to be on the camera. Bye!" she says, driving away.

At the board president's house, we find the landscaping in disarray, with weeds and animal feces all over the place.

We left a business card and went to the last board member's house, where we found a rat trap right outside the front gate.

He wasn't home, but we got him on the phone.

Darcy on phone: I'm calling to see if we can talk with you about the rat problem in your community for our HOA Hall of Shame.

He scheduled an interview, then canceled... Eventually referring us to their property manager.

Evidence of a run-around Kevin Ellis is all too familiar with.

"I pay dues.  Fix the building!  I have rights.  I live here.  I've been living here for 10 years.  For seven years, my house was quiet and peaceful, and it needs to be like that again."

Property manager First Service Residential sent us a written statement which says in part that the Flamingo Crest HOA has taken steps to eliminate their challenging rat issue. 

They say they've contracted with a pest control company to deal with this daunting task. 

And that their re-roofing project is underway, but will take some time to complete. 

They say they understand the homeowners' frustration and will work with them to resolve it.

You can count on Darcy.

She'll be out there to check on the HOA's progress.

And if you believe your HOA belongs in Contact 13's Hall of Shame, send an email to 13investigates@ktnv.com.

Darcy Spears

Darcy Spears

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Darcy Spears is currently the Chief Investigative Reporter for Action News.