March 13, 2019 8:52 pm
Updated: March 13, 2019 9:07 pm

‘The smell of death’: B.C. man calls on landlords to be more upfront about rental properties


When David Miller recently looked at a rental unit in a rooming house in Vernon, he didn’t question why there were numerous air fresheners in the unit.

“I was happy to get a place. I had to get a place and I took it,” Miller told Global News.

But when Miller moved in, the smell, which he described as pungent, could not be ignored, even with numerous air fresheners in the room.

Air fresheners inside the unit David Miller rented in Vernon.

Global News

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“‘The smell of death, really, it was disgusting, gross,” he said.

Miller says he was shocked to learn the source of the smell from a downstairs neighbor.

“He said, well somebody died up there, they od’ed (overdosed),” Miller said. “It was a little way back, I can’t remember the exact date but there was a duration of time when that body laid there.”

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Miller said he called the landlord and confirmed the smell was indeed from a dead body.

“The landlord doesn’t deny it,” Miller said.

Miller said he only spent one night in the unit, adding he couldn’t stomach any more days or nights.

He said he went to school the next day, feeling ‘sick to my stomach.’

“My teacher excused me a couple times that day so I could get out of the room,” he said. “I mean, you could even smell it on my clothes that day.”

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Global News left numerous messages for the landlord, but at publication time had no heard back.

Miller said he’s angry with himself for not asking more questions when he viewed the room prior to renting it, but he’s also upset at the landlord for not being upfront about the odour.

But according to LandlordBC, the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) does not require landlords to disclose any information to tenants about what may have occurred in a rental unit prior to their occupancy.

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In an email to Global News, a LandlordBC spokesperson said the following:

“This includes situations where a former occupant may have passed away within the rental unit. While the RTA is silent on this issue, we encourage our members to have open and transparent communication with their tenants to ensure there are no surprises down the road.”

Miller said laws need to be changed.

“There’s gotta be something, there’s gotta be something, it’s inhumane to do that to anybody,” he said.

While full disclosure is not legislated, in an email to Global News, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said landlords have an obligation to ensure that their units are in good condition, and that includes dealing with persistent odours.

“If a renter finds that their home isn’t suitable for living in, they should ask their landlord to resolve the issue,” Melanie Kilpatrick said. “If they cannot reach a resolution, the renter can contact the Residential Tenancy Branch for information about their rights and for dispute resolution.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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