Squalid Spanaway home littered with rats, trash and car parts

SPANAWAY, Wash. -- Everybody knows the house near the corner.

Teenager Ricky Cassube sees the piles of trash and the tire-less car on the lawn every day.

"I think it's a pretty dumpy house," he said.

But when you ask Richard Collins about the minivan with bags of garbage and busted windows, or you inquire about the smashed rear-projection TV, he just laughs and asks a question back.

"You want the truth or you want some lie?" he said.

He only wants to talk about the rats.

The house off 168th Street in Spanaway is a recent foreclosure and the owner let it go to seed over a period of years, according to Collins.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department never levied any fines because just enough work was done to keep the house off the radar after every inspection.

"The owner would do an adequate level of cleaning up and then we would go out and re-inspect and the pattern would begin again," said department spokesperson Edie Jeffers.

The county did go door to door to warn neighbors about the rats potentially spreading to different houses. Through nervous laughs, Brenda Roman said, "I just hope that they don't wander on down this way."

The house also gained attention from "Hoarders: Buried Alive," the TV show that helps homes and owners in filthy conditions. The teams needed more than one day to clean out the garbage inside and out.

The new owners are from Canada and have partnered with the county to get the property in better working order.

That's good news for Collins, because he said he's "getting tired of smelling rat."

"It really wears on you after a while," he said.