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Rat-infested home illustrates overload at city code compliance

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TWC News: Rat-infested home illustrates overload at city code compliance
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Tenant Mark Kaupe has put up caution tape around his house in Central Austin, a statement to those who pass by about the dangerous conditions inside.

The Navy veteran is dealing with some unwelcome guests —rats. The infestation is so dire that he's now being forced to find another place to live.

Kaupe blames his landlord for the rodents, which the city, in certain situations, considers a health hazard.

"It's unlivable now," Kaupe said. “The advice was and has been, 'get out.'"

Rat droppings are all over the house, including behind the stove, where Kaupe says he has to clean twice a week.

"The other fix now, is they have to go into the laundry room back there and stop them from coming back in,” Kaupe said.

The city of Austin has investigated the home on unrelated issues. The newest problem, the rat infestation, is now a problem the landlord has to deal with. In the meantime, Kaupe is looking for a new place to live.

There are currently 31 Code Compliance inspectors investigating thousands of cases in the city of Austin. Supervisor Paul Tomasovic says situations like Kaupe’s increase his inspectors’ workload, when the problem could be fixed before the city gets involved.

Tomasovic says dealing with minor cases, like rowdy rodents, displaces investigators from dealing with bigger issues like structural problems.

Last year, Code Compliance received at least 20,000 complaints, most of them minor. The City of Austin says if an issue can't be resolved, no matter how large or small, contact Code Compliance.

Phone calls made to the landlord in this story were not returned, and YNN found dozens of complaints on at least 13 properties from the same owner.

YNN's Develon Douglas took these photos inside Kaupe's home: ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP