Patty Ross slowly pulled her kitchen appliances back from the wall, revealing piles of mouse droppings in almost every corner. She pointed to teeth marks on the inside of her cabinet doors and explained why she has to keep all her food sealed safely away inside the refrigerator.
“This is what I’m living with,” Ross said. “It’s an infestation. It’s not a couple of mice.”
The problem, she said, started about two years ago, shortly after the Norwood Hospital flooded in June, 2020. About two months after the hospital was destroyed, she said she noticed the first mouse inside her apartment on Katie’s Way. In that time, she said she’s killed hundreds of mice, and suspects the flood drove the animals to her neighborhood.
“We’re downhill from the hospital. Everything came down [that day in June 2020]. It was just like a torrent of water and debris. It was gross,” Ross said. “[Now] they’re in the walls, scurrying through the floors, everywhere. They come up through my heating system. There’s no stopping them now,” Ross said.
Property records show the building is owned by Norwood resident Joan Jacobs and the Weld Ave Realty Trust. Jacobs did not respond to Boston 25′s requests for comment.
According to Ross, Jacobs hasn’t provided much relief. When Ross began complaining about the mouse problem, Ross said Jacobs responded, “Clean your house. Clean your house and we’ll throw down some traps.”
Section 410.550 of the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health code says the responsibility of a rodent infestation in a multi-unit dwelling falls on the landlord. Ross lives in a duplex.
“The owner of a dwelling containing two or more dwelling units shall maintain it and its premises free from all rodents, skunks, cockroaches and insect infestation and shall be responsible for exterminating them,” the regulation says.
Ross said Jacobs not only isn’t fixing the problem, she increased the rent. Ross received a letter from the Norwood Housing Authority in April informing her the rent was increasing by $100 for the “overall increased costs of real estate taxes and insurance, utilities and maintenance cost.” The monthly rent is now $2,039, according to the letter.
Ross said she is a recent breast cancer-survivor who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She said she receives a Section 8 voucher and only pays partial rent under HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, but admits that she stopped paying her share of the rent months ago. She estimates she owes Jacobs around $1,700 but feels she shouldn’t have to pay under these circumstances.
“At this point I’m not staying because I can’t, for my health. My doctor has written down that I need to leave this place,” Ross said.
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