The stench of a dead raccoon has driven him from his apartment. He still doesn’t know when it’ll be removed

A Toronto man is demanding to know when a dead raccoon will be removed from the ceiling of his west-end apartment, and whether he’ll be properly compensated now that the stench of the rotting carcass has permeated everything he owns.

“I can’t even put into words how this has completely turned my world upside down,” Jordan Tessier told CBC Toronto on Wednesday.

“The smell just is everywhere, in all of my clothes, my furniture. Everything just reeks of rotting flesh.”

After initially refusing to reimburse him, Royal York Property Management agreed Wednesday to provide some compensation to Tessier, who has lived in the Little Portugal bachelor apartment near Ossington Avenue and Dundas Street West for about six years.

But the company has not indicated how much it will pay, or when, or what the compensation is intended to cover. Tessier has to live elsewhere until the raccoon is removed and the stench of rotting flesh clears. 

Tessier said he is relieved that the company has stepped up but he said he would like details because he doesn’t feel the offer is “genuine at all.” His clothes need dry cleaning and his furniture, including a couch and a bed, have to be thrown out, he said.

“I need compensation for everything in my apartment that’s ruined and having to go stay somewhere else. If I didn’t have family I would be homeless basically at this point,” he said.

A dead raccoon has made an apartment in this building unlivable, according to the tenant. (Talia Ricci/CBC)

The offer for compensation, meanwhile, came after Toronto Public Health (TPH) said it was investigating the situation and was in contact with the landlord. When the property management company initially said it would not compensate him, Tessier filed complaints with the city and public health unit.

“Toronto Public Health has received a request regarding odours potentially due to animals located within/near the subject property,” TPH said in an email.

“TPH will refer other partnering agencies as needed to resolve this issue.”

Initially, the company said in a statement it was working to resolve the issue. Then, in an email later on Wednesday, Sindi Karaxha, portfolio manager for Royal York Property Management, said the company will compensate the tenant but has not decided how much or when. 

Karaxha said a pest control company was also expected on Wednesday evening to begin work to clear the carcass, but Tessier said its staff showed up only to say they will come back in a couple of days.

“I didn’t seek coverage on this, I believe I’d be fighting with them for weeks to do the bare minimum. It’s sad that this is the ‘norm’ that renters in Toronto have to deal with. With the smell and damages it has caused to my place and belongings, I feel like this is still just the start of my fight with them,” he said.

Tenant initially thought it was ‘dead person upstairs’

Tessier said the situation began when he went to Ottawa for more than a week last week to help his brother who is undergoing chemotherapy treatments. When Tessier returned home on Saturday night, he walked into his apartment to find “the disgusting smell of rotting flesh” permeating the entire space. 

“I had no idea where it was coming from. I honestly thought that my neighbour upstairs had passed away because the smell was just so potent and so pungent that I thought this has to be a dead person upstairs,” he said.

He said he found out that the landlord and property management company took action about the raccoon infestation in the building but was unable to retrieve the carcasses.

One raccoon died in the ceiling above his kitchen and has been decomposing since then, he said. There is also a dead raccoon half hanging out of a vent in the roof.

Tessier said he couldn’t get a hold of his property manager until Monday. On Tuesday, an exterminator came by for an assessment.

“He said he wasn’t able to go into my apartment without wearing a gas mask. He said that it’s way too potent of a smell for it to be a dead mouse or rat — that it has to be something bigger, like a raccoon,” Tessier told CBC Toronto.

Place must be ‘fit for habitation,’ lawyer says

Tessier said the tenants have been keeping each other updated in a group chat and he has no idea when his unit will be livable again.

Jordan Donich, a lawyer, said it is important in cases like this one that everything is documented.

“The landlord has a duty or an obligation to keep a place fit for habitation. That’s the law,” he said.

“That means complying with health and safety standards. I think, in this particular case, we have allegedly a deceased raccoon in the unit. We don’t know how necessarily the raccoon got there. We also don’t know how long it’s been there,” he said.

Donich said at issue is what the landlord has done since being notified by the tenant.

“If it does get before a board at some point, you have your evidence and you have your story. That’s really how you’ll be awarded some form of damages or compensation or termination of tenancy.” 

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