Gave an objection during an apartment shop that stated "Unit smelled like a dead body." Editor is not amused.

Last week, I did an apartment shop where I mentioned to the leasing professional that the "unit smelled like a dead body." The odor was so pungent that the leasing professional responded at first by being oblivious to my comment, then acknowledging that "yes, it was lived in once, but no more." The way she phrased her response (as well as body language) seemed to allude that something may have happened within the vacant unit.

Considering that this was a video shop, the editor indicated that I didn't have to "go there" with my comment, and that the segment may have to be muted for the client. As it was, I followed this objection with a minor one.

However, there is a line of questioning within the survey (let's say Question #7) that asks if I saw a clean & presentable apartment unit. I had answered no, explaining the pungent odor. While I wasn't bothered by the possibility that there could've been a death within the apartment unit (happens everyday), what did bother me was that Question #7 is being invalidated just because the client may not like it. That, and I don't like being brought into a vacant apartment that smells bad enough to nearly induce vomiting.

My question is that if MSCs require shoppers to be honest, unbiased, and fact-based, why are facts being obscured for the benefit of the MSC client? What if this was a potential resident that wanted to move in? Would they realistically enjoy the odor of post mortem corpse funk in an apartment unit, much less anything else?

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Fine line, maybe? Would another shopper have been more blunt? Less descriptive?

I dunno. I am learning here...

In retrospect, would you have any other way to refer to the odor? 'It seems a little musty in here. Has the unit been closed up lately?' 'Do you air the vacant units before tenants move into them?'

Some of the days in November carry the whole memory of summer as a fire opal carries the color of moon rise. - Gladys Taber
Eric, I did a non-video shop for the same MSC. I got lost in the parking structure, and ended up taking the stairs to get to the Leasing Office. The stairs smelled like urine. I put this in my report and received no feedback.

Curious, Eric, do you know what a dead body smells like?

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
@HonnyBrown I actually do know what a dead body smells like. I served in two combat zones while in the Army. I'll just leave it at that. You don't forget an odor like the one decomposition emanates.
Rotting, decomposing flesh is pretty unforgettable. My garage refrigerator quit working one summer when I was on vacation. When I returned, I opened the freezer and the odor was revolting. I imagine that a rotting human carcass and that of animals smells about the same as it is decomposing.
Oh yeah, and I also took anatomy in college and we had to dissect human cadavers, but that mostly smelled of formaldehyde (which is unpleasant in it's own right).
I've actually said this in real life while looking at apartments, so, yeah, REAL people would absolutely make that objection. There really is no other way to describe the smell of a dead body. I can't believe that a client would not want to know that a smell in an apartment is "off putting"

Shopping the South Jersey Shore
The client needs to know that they have a leasing agent who would show an apartment in that condition. The MSC is doing the client no favors by sanitizing the report.
It may seem like a fine distinction, but "smells like urine" is more obviously descriptive. Saying that a room "smells like a dead body" might be descriptive. It might be exaggeration. Unless you suspected that there was a body before you said it, it's a bit much. You smelled something rotting.

Obviously, you can't unsay things that come naturally. Maybe they had recently exterminated many mice and they were all decomposing in the walls. That could be a real thing that happens. If a person had died, I would hope that they would not have been left for so long.
Urine and a rotting-type of smell are entirely different altogether. Rotting or decomposition are comparable uses of nomenclature that any reasonable individual would understand.

Keep in mind that there is an extraordinary difference between the smell of any food item that is rotting, and the decomposition of an animal carcass or human corpse. I definitely didn't smell rotting food, which led to my immediate response (in real-time, not after hesitating for several moments) for the latter that would have been either category of the aforementioned animal carcass or human corpse.

Nonetheless, the overall point is that why would a client's approved survey with the MSC ask if the unit was clean and ready to show (when it wasn't), only to get mad at my natural response when it answered the client's own survey question? Throwing out my reaction clearly weakens the survey question if it was clean or not when my video reaction is censored. It makes me wonder what else is potentially whitewashed just to make someone look good.
I would have probably put really pungent odor and not dead body comment. I have to wonder (maybe naiive me) that maybe a mouse or rat could have died and is causing the smell?
The OP did not "put" anything. He was not writing a report but there in person videotaping and it was a gut reaction. No time to think and then reconsider the words that came spontaneously to mind and were recorded on the video. It would certainly have been better had pungent odor or some other less descriptive words were used but sometimes you have little control over your gut. The msc might want to mute that comment. I can understand that but throwing out the whole question and not even letting the client know there was a really bad odor is covering up something they are hiring us to find out. I agree with Eric that they went too far.

@dailydog wrote:

I would have probably put really pungent odor and not dead body comment. I have to wonder (maybe naiive me) that maybe a mouse or rat could have died and is causing the smell?
Is this possibly a case of an editor making changes without regard to the shop goal or instructions? Maybe it is only the editor that thinks the comment should be deleted. Maybe it actually IS something the client would want to know?

sestrahelena
I wrote a long response but when I tried to post, IT got erased and I got an error message. How ironic, because it was about a similar experience that I had, on video, in Roanoke, 10 years ago. Turned out that the on-site manager kept that apartment (A former crime scene) to show to people she did not think "belonged there." I did not say anything on the video, but did in the comment. The MSC owner told me about the client's reaction to finding out that the manager "just thought it best that like live with like," The client fired the manager, who "looked like" me, but , apparently not like the tenants. (During a work/school day, it is not unusual to see very few or no tenants during a tour.) I too know that smell.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
@walesmaven wrote:

I wrote a long response but when I tried to post, IT got erased and I got an error message. How ironic, because it was about a similar experience that I had, on video, in Roanoke, 10 years ago. Turned out that the on-site manager kept that apartment (A former crime scene) to show to people she did not think "belonged there." I did not say anything on the video, but did in the comment. The MSC owner told me about the client's reaction to finding out that the manager "just thought it best that like live with like," The client fired the manager, who "looked like" me, but , apparently not like the tenants. (During a work/school day, it is not unusual to see very few or no tenants during a tour.) I too know that smell.

For once, I'm speechless. My jaw is on my toes. That's inexcusable; I'm glad the manager got fired.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
Birdy,
As a former real estate agent, I can tell you that this sort of thing is all too common.

My sister did her first apartment shop and asked, "Are there many children in this community." The LA answered, "Oh, don't worry. We keep all of the people with children in the two buildings in the back." (Family status is a fair housing "protected category."winking smiley

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
@walesmaven wrote:

Birdy,
As a former real estate agent, I can tell you that this sort of thing is all too common.

My sister did her first apartment shop and asked, "Are there many children in this community." The LA answered, "Oh, don't worry. We keep all of the people with children in the two buildings in the back." (Family status is a fair housing "protected category."winking smiley

I was a Realtor for 25 years, but thankfully, started selling just as the laws were changing to protect classes previously discriminated against. I had continuing-ed courses on the subject over the years and also owned rental property, so was sensitive to this issue. Fortunately, I never dealt with either a seller or a landlord who overtly discriminated. Not that it wasn't in their minds, but they never showed it. I'm not so naive to think that it didn't happen and that it still doesn't. In fact, our Realtor (our house is on the market) told me about a seller one of their agents was working with who said he wouldn't sell to "those XXXX people." The broker immediately cancelled the listing contract. I'm still amazed at ads I see running in the real-estate section and descriptions in the MLS. Realtors themselves are using biased language, and nobody is calling them on it.

I was a leasing agent for an apartment complex for a few months, and my manager was so "with it" about non-discrimination. It was a pleasure to work with her, and that also made me extra vigilant.

It's sad that we're still talking about this happening some 30+ years or so after the passing of protected-class laws. :'(

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
My RE agent experience began more than 25 years after national fair housing laws went into effect and closer to 35 years after the ones for the counties where I worked went into effect. Buyers, sellers and agent, to this day, are blatantly violation those laws. Fortunately, less so in the DMV region than in most places. But, yes, it is still an issue here, as well.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
@walesmaven wrote:

My RE agent experience began more than 25 years after national fair housing laws went into effect and closer to 35 years after the ones for the counties where I worked went into effect. Buyers, sellers and agent, to this day, are blatantly violation those laws. Fortunately, less so in the DMV region than in most places. But, yes, it is still an issue here, as well.

I'm actually surprised that where I live now, in south-central PA, isn't worse with respect to this issue than it seems to be. Up in NY, this wasn't as much of a concern, in my mind. And, yes, people do violate these laws. Some unwittingly, some not. Realtors are still making "suggestions" on school districts, which they're not supposed to do. I have strong opinions on area school districts, strictly from the standpoints of academics and students being able to get the services they need. But I was always "silent" about that when working with buyers. I referred them to sources of research. If people asked me, "Are there many kids in the neighborhood?" I said I was legally unable to tell them that, but would suggest that they visit the neighborhood on the weekend or stop and chat with the neighbors (which we were allowed to tell them).

It's really not that hard to behave! LOL. And I don't get why so many Realtors as well as sellers and buyers don't seem able to. Who could possibly think it's OK to tell their Realtor they don't want certain types of people buying their house? It's mind-boggling.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
I see both sides of the coin. Should the owner of a business be legally required to conduct commerce with any person in which they have zero desire? Not in my opinion. BUT, if the statute so dictates, we do not have the pleasure of only obeying those rules in which we believe. There must, to maintain order, be compliance, while working to change those laws we abhor.
OP did better than I would have....I can just see myself....walks in door, breathes, gasps -- "OMG, who died in here?"

smiling smiley
A dead reptile was in a pest control box during a shop. The smell was awful, and I included that in my report, as well as a photo of the dead reptile. No feedback from the MSC, so I guess they kept the info.
My city is seriously thinking about passing a law to make it illegal to keep any house or apartment unoccupied for longer than a short period of time...i think 3 months. That includes private single family houses where the person possibly owns 2 properties or more or is out of the country and is not currently staying in the local one. I will have to remember this dead person smell scenario so in case I ever leave for a few months I will not have to rent my house out while I am gone.....Can I get some body rot perfume spray? This law is to get rid of homelessness by putting more real estate on the rental market. I am not sure where they come up with these ideas from but I am expecting if it passes we will quickly turn into society where every one is spying on and reporting on every one else.
Keep your eye out for when you hear a famous hollywood actor is out of the country on a shoot for a few months. Then you can put on your worst clothing and legally rent their house from them. Not sure yet if you will need to lower your rent to where the city can afford to rent your place for a homeless person to live in while you are gone.
Of course they have thought this thing all the way through..... Does this apply to military personnel who have an expectation of returning-- but as per orders from headquarters and not according to this proposed law? Is there any differentiation between reasons for being elsewhere? Military? Hospitalized? Caregiver for distant relative? Temporary work assignment? Thinking about how this could be for me.... let's say that I wanted to spend another season working at a national park (please try this if you can and also will not lose your housing), I might have to find another place to live upon my return if the tenants do not leave on time or before I get back from my beloved gig? Who can enforce that?

Some of the days in November carry the whole memory of summer as a fire opal carries the color of moon rise. - Gladys Taber


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/2019 03:10PM by Shop-et-al.
Usually, such laws are intended to prevent unoccupied properties from becoming deteriorating hide-outs for squatters, or worse. DC is just starting to deal with about 2000 abandoned homes where the owns pay the taxes, but let the property decay and become a health and/or safety hazard. There IS a law on the books, permitting the city to confiscate the property if the registered owner does nothing fater three court demands for remediation. But, in recent years, in spite of a huge shortage of housing, that was not enforced.

If/when, the city takes possession, it is required to repudiate and/or renovate and place the property on the market to individuals or families or moderate income who are already DC residents, and to offer help with loans and closing costs.

I would wonder if the law cited by the Sandy has any such provisions.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/2019 03:52PM by walesmaven.
@sandyf wrote:

My city is seriously thinking about passing a law to make it illegal to keep any house or apartment unoccupied for longer than a short period of time...i think 3 months. That includes private single family houses where the person possibly owns 2 properties or more or is out of the country and is not currently staying in the local one. I will have to remember this dead person smell scenario so in case I ever leave for a few months I will not have to rent my house out while I am gone.....Can I get some body rot perfume spray? This law is to get rid of homelessness by putting more real estate on the rental market. I am not sure where they come up with these ideas from but I am expecting if it passes we will quickly turn into society where every one is spying on and reporting on every one else.
Keep your eye out for when you hear a famous hollywood actor is out of the country on a shoot for a few months. Then you can put on your worst clothing and legally rent their house from them. Not sure yet if you will need to lower your rent to where the city can afford to rent your place for a homeless person to live in while you are gone.

Just when you think it can't get any crazier, it does. How far will they go until they have gone too far? Funny thing is that the politicians are part of the upper 1%. These rules, laws and taxes don't really affect them. Good luck enforcing that law. So, they'll enforce that, but they won't enforce any no-camping on public sidewalks? >90% of the "homeless" people don't want help/services when it's offered. OK Sandyf, don't go on vacation because if you are gone for more than 90 days, the city will move in a bunch of homeless people. Seems reasonable ...
Of course...home to the outrageous swing to I don't know where. I do think this type of law is society going wrong and some liberal or conservative politicians who will be immune for some reason like the neighborhood they live in or being generally above the law thought this was a good solution. Instead of retrofitting older unused buildings to house the homeless who agree to be housed in sufficiency type apartments they are building brand new one bedroom apartments fully furnished so the tax money can only stretch to an insignificant percentage of the homeless. There was a court order several years ago that said the city cannot do anything at all to move or ask the homeless to pitch in to help themselves until there is enough housing for all of them....58,000 at last count. Probably larger than the city you live in Ceasesmith. So consequently they can squat on sidewalks and live there, the public post office lot had an encampment in it last week, If I walk down to the grocery store in the evening I have to step around the tents into the street. Some of these encampments are strewn with trash. I am not saying they are all dirty crazy people but there enough that are that it feels very unsafe. My daughter went to the ER friday night and it was full of most likely homeless people making up some story in order to have a clean place to sleep.She was in a hallway as all the rooms were full. What does one of those ER beds cost? The docs and nurses are kept busy with each loud yell every time one wakes up and demands attention. Evidently they have frequent fliers that come in every few nights and complain of something and they have to run expensive tests and keep the beds full for hours. It must be difficult for the staff to sort out who is just looking for a bed and who has a real medical issue. The nurse also told her they get at least one person a night who has overdosed on marijuana foodstuffs because they thought it was not working and just kept eating. One was there the night she was there. This is a small ER with only a few beds and they seem to be overrun.
Anyway I would be afraid to take a chance on housing someone off the streets in my home...I would have to cart all my things out while I was gone and hope that whoever they found would not trash the place. I am pretty sure though that I could probably choose my own house sitters as long as it was someone needing a place to live.

@ceasesmith wrote:

Sandy, that's absolutely outrageous.

Do you, like, live in California?
Actually at this time it just a proposal but a seriously considered one. The aim is to make sure landlords are not keeping apartments/houses off the rental lists so that they they do not have to abide by the rules where they have to allow those they do not want. They also want those who own second and third and so on houses to put their houses up for rent for the periods when they live in one of their other houses. This bill, should it happen, is aimed at the wealthy , not the poor but the ultra wealthy I am sure will find a work around and a middle income person just going off to work a summer job somewhere will be the one caught in the middle. It is designed to free up housing for homeless I guess with a trickle down. If I rent my vacant for three months nice expensive house to someone who can afford it, then somewhere down the rental cost line it will leave a cheapo apartment open for a homeless person to occupy. For every 100 people who rent their short term rentals from vacationers or snowbirds who would have left their place vacant there will be bottom $$ 100 apartments they will leave available for the homeless.

@walesmaven wrote:

Usually, such laws are intended to prevent unoccupied properties from becoming deteriorating hide-outs for squatters, or worse. DC is just starting to deal with about 2000 abandoned homes where the owns pay the taxes, but let the property decay and become a health and/or safety hazard. There IS a law on the books, permitting the city to confiscate the property if the registered owner does nothing fater three court demands for remediation. But, in recent years, in spite of a huge shortage of housing, that was not enforced.

If/when, the city takes possession, it is required to repudiate and/or renovate and place the property on the market to individuals or families or moderate income who are already DC residents, and to offer help with loans and closing costs.

I would wonder if the law cited by the Sandy has any such provisions.
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