Lakewood woman gets heebie-jeebies from putrid-smelling, rat-infested house next door

City may seek court order to enter home
Posted at 9:21 PM, Jun 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-17 11:58:06-04

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- It's like a scene out of a scary movie.

Rats crawling in and out of a house through a hole in the roof and one in the foundation. 

Kelly Houghton had no idea there was an "issue" with the house next door until she moved into her new home on S. Lee Street in Lakewood.

That's when she first noticed the putrid smell.

"I can't enjoy my backyard," she said. "These 90 degree days, with the smell coming in, we're very hot at night, having to close the windows."

Houghton told Denver7 that she was so happy, in this hot housing market, to find a new home in a beautiful neighborhood near Smith Reservoir, that she didn't pay much attention to what was going on next door.

Rats Everywhere

She soon learned that the house adjacent to hers was infested with rats.

On Friday, she saw more rats than ever, after climbing a ladder to look over her fence.

"Oh my God, I'm going to throw up," she said. "Ewwww, ewww."

Rats were climbing up the rain spout, rats by the fence and rats on the roof.

"We don't know what's inside the house," she said. "There could be millions of these just lying on top of each other."

"We counted ten rats at one time," said Houghton's father, Pete, while standing on the ladder.

He pointed out more rats among the plants and on the rocks of the adjacent property.

"It's not right that a young woman buys a house, pays $400,000 and you have to experience this," he said.


According to Jefferson County property records, the house, at 1619 South Lee Street, is owned by several members of the Dieckman family, none of whom apparently live there.

Denver7 reached out to several of them but has not received a response.

City to Take Action

Denver7 also contacted the City of Lakewood and was told that although they had been aware of the issue for some time, they didn't feel that it rose to the level where they could "legally access" the house.

"That has changed," the spokeswoman said.

On Friday, a code enforcement officer went to the address and couldn't believe what she saw. 

The spokeswoman said it's likely that Lakewood will now seek a court order that would allow them to access the house.

When asked if the city might hire an exterminator and charge the owners, or perhaps condemn the property, she said it's too early to know how this will play out, or how long it will take.

Ms. Houghton is glad the process will get underway.

"I'm going to stay optimistic," she said, "because I have to, but until I actually see something being done, I'm not going to stop voicing concerns about it."