ELYRIA — Elyria City Safety Service Assistant Director Kevin Brubaker said the city is continuing to work on the two homes at 325 12th St. and 435 14th St. to address a cockroach infestation.
Allied Exterminating Inc. sprayed the 14th Street home Wednesday and plans to return one to two more times to remove the roaches. The extermination company had to postpone extermination at the 12th Street home due to the city condemning the home Wednesday.
After recent complaints about the 12th Street home, Brubaker visited the property in a special suit used to avoid contamination and confirmed the infestation. He said the family of two adults, two children, four cats and two dogs living in the home had conditions supporting infestation, including no electricity and an unsanitary environment.
A parent also told Brubaker they had roaches for two years, but never reported it. The infestation had then reached about seven nearby homes, according to resident Wendy White, a single mother of three children who discovered her own infestation three weeks ago. Living with the infestation has been a frustrating nightmare, she said, spending $90 in extermination fees and the loss of peace of mind.
“Imagine going into your own home — the home you love — and having to check absolutely everything you eat first for bugs caused by someone else? You don’t live like that,” she said.
Every day, White checks her toilets and pantries, cleans dishes, vacuums three times per day and inspects her child’s diapers between changing. She also fears for her son with cerebral palsy — a disorder of movement, muscle tone and posture — who could get sick from being closer to the ground and his inability to move freely.
The 12th Street home will be sprayed by Allied Exterminating at 8 a.m. Friday. The family is no longer living in the home. They have been allowed to claim their items from the home.
The 12th Street home is owned by JB Patriot Properties VIII LLC, a company owned by Jerrod Biebrick. Biebrick could not be reached for comment, but court records show he has been cited by the city in the past in connection with properties he owns. From 2014 to 2017, Biebrick received 12 property violation citations from the city, according to the Elyria Municipal Court records.
Jim Brunner, owner of Brunner Real Estate Co. which owns the 14th Street home, said the tenants he had were the culprits of the infestation and left the home a mess when they departed. The renters signed the lease last year and stopped paying rent in the last few months, so he evicted them. The tenants left the house nearly two weeks ago and Brunner said there was an estimated $10,000 in damage to the property.
When his company started to clean the home, Brunner said roaches were found, and he said they sprayed in the home and moved the garbage and broken furniture outside to be picked up, which he said was sprayed again. But residents discovered the roaches began to infest multiple nearby houses.
Brunner said he is committed to helping the nearby residents with his landscaping company spraying and cutting the grass of the affected properties like he did for his own property.
Brubaker urged residents to call the city as soon as they find an infestation in their homes. Though he understands residents’ frustration, he assures them something will be done.
“There is a process that we have to follow. Unfortunately, it’s a slower process than people would want,” he said. “But the intent is to get the problem rectified as quickly as possible, and that is what’s going on here.”
While she is appreciative of the city’s action, White said, she wants more to be done for the residents who are affected. To her, the property owner of the first infested home should cover the extermination expenses for the residents.
“Why are we responsible for something that we have been consistently calling about?”
Brubaker said there is nothing the city can do to hold the property owners financially responsible for other homes affected. However, residents can file a civil lawsuit against the property owners. White said she and other residents don’t have the time and money to afford their own extermination fees, let alone legal fees.