Toronto woman can't live in rooming house after neighbour's body went undiscovered for weeks

·3 min read
Viji Murugaiyah has been a tenant at 570 Sherbourne St. for 12 years. (CBC - image credit)
Viji Murugaiyah has been a tenant at 570 Sherbourne St. for 12 years. (CBC - image credit)

A resident of a downtown Toronto rooming house says her unit is uninhabitable after the body of a neighbour lay undiscovered in his room for weeks.

Viki Murugaiyah, 53, has been living in the house for 12 years. She says she believes the victim had been dead for about two weeks before his body was taken away by emergency service personnel over a week ago. She says she started noticing a foul odour in the latter part of May, but thought it was because the landlord hadn't cleaned the house for several months.

"I thought it was garbage or something," Murugaiyah told CBC Toronto on Thursday.

She says the stench got progressively worse so she messaged and called the landlord several times between June 1 and 2 but got no response.

The odour was so bad she "wasn't able to cook or eat," she says.

"It was disturbing me, I light incense in the house, I put air freshener but it doesn't [remove] the smell," she said.

CBC
CBC

Murugaiyah says sometime in May she stopped seeing the elderly man. She also noticed that she had not heard any sound coming from his room. She says she could normally hear the television playing or any other type of movement. She says she asked the landlord to check in on the resident.

The landlord, Jojo Ye, told CBC News she asked another tenant to check in on the man. She says the tenant told her the man was fine.

Ye says she thought a raccoon had died in the house.

By June 14, Murugaiyah was finding it impossible to function in her own unit, so she called the emergency services.

"Immediately the fire workers came … They opened the door [to the elderly man's room] and they said he passed away," Murugaiyah said.

The body was removed from the building around 2 a.m. on June 15.

Submitted by Viji Murugaiyah
Submitted by Viji Murugaiyah

A spokesperson with Toronto Fire Services told CBC News they went to the house, along with paramedics, on June 14 after receiving a call about bad odour coming from a unit.

They forced down the door and found the body of a man.

Staying with friends

Murugaiyah says she has been staying with friends in Scarborough since June 15, because the room where the man died has not been cleaned and the bad odour remains in the house.

"It's so bad I couldn't stay," she said.

"It still smells inside the unit … I can't eat, I can't cook because I feel like vomiting."

According to Murugaiyah, the rooming house is occupied by low-income people and she and other residents have received no assistance to help them find accommodation while the building remains uninhabitable.

Murugaiyah says the house needs to be "cleaned up professionally" so that residents can move back into their units.

"It's very expensive, I cannot afford [a new house] in this crisis time," she said.

Police say the matter is still under investigation.

Ye says she hasn't been able to get into the unit to clean it because it's still being held by police as part of their investigation.

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