KNOXVILLE (WATE) - In East Knox County, some neighbors say an infestation of rats and roaches has invaded their homes and property.
Rats like to live where people live, and experts say they quickly adjust to the neighborhood, preferring to settle for scraps from trash bags and cans, especially those left in private yards.
Paula Yakey and Tina Ellis say it is their neighbor's backyard where rats and other vermin thrive.
Chuck Martin and his wife, Peggy, were offended when 6 On Your Side confronted them about the rats and trash.
"It's not of your business who it is," said Peggy Martin's father, Benny Summey.
Summey said we should bug out of their business.
But their next-door neighbor Tina Ellis called 6 On Your Side to show us what goes on in the Martin's backyard.
"I've got cats out here. They take care of the mice and I see dead rats out here all the time. Roaches, in groups, come in this way. Literally groups of them," Ellis said. "They're coming from right next door here."
Right next door to Ellis' house is the Martins' backyard.
"The rats come in from the outside over here and they crawl across the counter," Paula Yakey said.
She says an army of rats have recently marched into her home, which is near the Martins'.
"I've seen one in my bedroom," she said. "They come from this house down here."
6 On Your Side observed the Martins in their yard, throwing trash around. When we asked what was going on, they told us it was clothing and a truck would be coming to take it away.
"I've never had a problem before now. And now it's become a real problem," Ellis said.
She's concerned about her children and other kids who live near the house.
"I just want to see it cleaned up. I think it's important for the children to have a clean, safe environment to be in," she said.
If there is a dirty or overgrown lot in your neighborhood, the Knox County Codes Department says it usually responds to complaints within 48 hours if their schedule permits.
If there is imminent danger like a structural problem, response time is immediate. Most other counties and cities also take calls from concerned neighbors.
Yakey has called the codes department and lodged a complaint. She's also called an exterminator, who was at her house the other day to fumigate the entire home.
"Rats carry diseases. So do roaches and I have a fear of roaches. I don't want roaches at my house," she said.
Codes inspectors have a certain amount of authority to require issues like unkempt lawns or trash in yards to be cleaned up.
The same is true of environmental health inspectors.
You can see Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports every Monday and Wednesday on 6 News at 5:00.
If you have a consumer question, send Don an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call his 6 On Your Side Hotline at (865) 633-5974.