Owners of Waipahu apartment complex sued over rat-infested 'slum'

Published: May. 18, 2017 at 10:06 PM HST|Updated: May. 19, 2017 at 4:38 AM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new lawsuit claims dozens of people have been tricked into renting filthy apartments at an Oahu complex infested with rats.

Hawaii News Now's first reports on the rat infestation at the Oasis Apartments in Waipahu were made last year. A class-action lawsuit filed on Wednesday says the owners have known about the problem for years – but have done little to fix it.

"They're tricking people into thinking that they're going to be renting a beautiful, sanitary, clean apartment, and then they're getting a slum," said attorney Bridget Morgan, who filed the suit.

Former residents says dozens of rats live in crawl spaces, chew up holes in the walls and cabinets, and leave their dropping everywhere.

"You could hear the squealing. You could hear the clawing of the rats on the traps," said former resident Jennifer Cannon, who now lives in Houston.

Cannon said the rat problem forced her to move out.

"So basically, we got sick, whether it was from the dander or the rat feces," she said.

Latee Fretwell, another former tenant, said one rat got stuck in her shower drain for several days.

"It was just scratching. I think it was trying to come up. (The exterminator) looked at it and said 'that's a rat,'" she said.

Morgan says that under Hawaii law, the owner's responsibilities are clear.

"Upon notice that their housing units have rats, they have to clean it up. It's that simple," Morgan said.

We reached out to the company, but got no response. When we last covered the infestation, it issued this statement:

"We take every issue raised by our residents extremely seriously. We will look into this and any future issues diligently," said Michael Stamper of Apartment Management Consultants, which manages the property.

Besides health risks associated with rat infestations, the suit also alleges that the owners misled potential tenants about the conditions of the apartments.

Morgan said many residents were stuck in their unsanitary apartments because their lease included a $3,800 early termination fee, which many couldn't pay.

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