An Annapolis couple that just moved into a new home found that it was full of snakes. Now, they are filing a $2 million lawsuit against the realtor.
Instead of being thrilled about being in the home they wanted to raise their two children in, Jeff and Jody Brooks have been trying to figure out a way to get out of the deal permanently.
They looked at the house in November, and bought it in December. It was winter, when snakes were hibernating between the walls of the house. Then when warm weather broke in April, the slithering began. First, the couple says their young son found a three-foot snake wriggling out of the house on April 3. A week later, they spotted one even bigger.
"The seven-footer was coming out to the unfinished part of the basement," said Jody Brooks.
The couple found mostly black rat snakes, eight of them altogether, in their dream home before they decided to pack up and go stay with family.
Black rat snakes are generally four to six feet as adults. They eat mice and rats as their name implies. These snakes are not venomous and not dangerous to humans.
But the Brooks family doesn't want them in their house.
The family attorney says a snake inspector found "highways in the basement walls that the snakes use to traverse the home" and "extensive snake activity in the ceiling insulation with snake nesting, tunnels, and feces." Inspectors said the home was a snake den – and told the couple the house was unhealthy and unsafe to live in with small children.
"We've learned so much in this process," said Jody. "It's more than I've ever wanted to learn about snakes."
The entire first floor ceiling had to be ripped out. All of the insulation was removed from the roof and the basement. It's already cost the Brooks' more than $50,000– and they were told there's no guarantee the snakes won't return.
"When you're 100 percent maxed out … What do you do? You're staring at financial ruin in the face and just what do you do?" said Jody.
The couple is now suing the realtor for $2 million. They claim the snake infestation was known, but not disclosed.
According to the lawsuit, the Brooks' heard from neighbors that the house might have a snake problem. Prior tenants allegedly moved out because of it.
When the couple brought it up to the seller and the listing agent (who are mother and daughter) - they were told the tenants were "gypsies" who did not want to pay rent and had Photoshopped a picture of a snake at the property to get out of the lease. They asked for documentation – and received only the seller and realtors assurances.
The $2 million lawsuit would cover the $410,000 price of the home, the pest control, other related expenses, along with a million dollars in punitive damages.
The seller and her agent are named in the lawsuit, but they have declined comment citing pending litigation.