Snake infestation has family living in fear, but unable to move without deposit

Posted at 10:55 AM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-28 12:55:06-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City woman says she`s being cheated out of her lease deposit - and she has to leave her home because its being overrun with snakes. The mother of two says she doesn't have money to move without the deposit.

"It is scary! We can't sleep. Every time I hear a noise in the wall, because I know they're there. They're in the walls. It is just creepy," said Tonya Bell.

She took FOX 4 into her daughter's bedroom for a closer look at a snake on a sticky mouse trap.

"I'm like wow! You know that could have gotten around my daughter's neck. Anything. It could be poisonous," said Bell.

Bell said she had found eight snakes within five days.

"My kids don't want to come home. They want to stand outside. They want to sleep in the truck," said Bell.

The pest problem started with mice.

"The mice were really bad, jumping in and out of the trash cans. Eating on my bread. Everything," said Bell.

She signed a two-year lease last June, but after several attempts to get rid of the snakes, the owner of the home and Kansas City Housing Authority agreed to let Bell out of her lease. However her relief turned to frustration when she learned she wouldn't be getting $500 of the $600 that she paid for her deposit.

“Why? What did I do as a tenant?” said Bell.

Her lease states that deposit money would be held only to cover damages if she incurred any. FOX 4 didn't find any portion of the contract saying Bell would forfeit the money for other reasons. Bell has found another home to move into, but says she can`t afford it without her deposit money.

"I`m living paycheck to paycheck. I really need that money. It was hard for me to even get up all the money to give to them," said Bell.

The company that manages the property declined FOX 4's request for an on-camera interview, but says several things were done to try and rid the property of the snakes. FOX 4 left a number for the property owner to call back, and as of air time Monday night, that had not happened. FOX 4 has also heard from a second woman who said she lived in the home previously and also had a problem with snakes, mice and plumbing.