Experts sniff for clues at special kitchen hearing in Wellington over 'rat'
Two experts are divided over whether a bad odour in a Wellington man's kitchen comes from a rat carcass.
Media were barred from taking photos as two Pestproof Pest Control staff, who had previously worked at the house, took turns sniffing inside Aro Valley resident Stuart MacIntosh's cupboards on Wednesday, during a special court hearing.
They gave Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator Brent Smallbone differing opinions over whether the smell was likely from a rotten carcass or general mustiness from under the floorboards.
MacIntosh, 32, has taken property management company Quinovic to the tribunal seeking three weeks' worth of rent as compensation. He alleges the company failed to get exterminators to adequately deal with a recurring stink that made him feel too sick to eat from his kitchen.
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One of the pest experts said he smelled something weird as soon as he entered the kitchen, before sniffing in a cupboard.
"There does appear to be the smell of something dead there now. It wasn't there when I came and checked a month or so ago.
"It's just a dead-animal smell. It could be a dead hedgehog or anything."
The temperature could cook things up at this time of year, or you might get a "slow burner over winter".
However, his colleague thought "it's more a musty smell of humidity, of old houses".
"I can't even say there is one per cent carcass.
"I bet that many houses around here, which are about the same age, would have this kind of issue."
MacIntosh said the smell had lessened to about a "2/100" since he noticed it about a week ago. It was the third time since March that he has had a problem with a smell .
He grew up on a farm. He likes the house in general, and wants to stay there – provided Quinovic sorts out the smell issue.
"I'm not somebody who's precious. I've fallen off the back of a tractor into a cow pat."
Quinovic Kent Terrace principal Matt Watson failed to sniff out anything shocking.
He wondered why MacIntosh had not asked him to terminate his fixed-term lease if conditions had been as bad as believed, and was open to discussion.
Any allegation "that we've sat on our hands and not tried to do anything" was wrong, especially as the company had called in experts in the past.
"We'll keep going and hopefully get to the root of the problem."
Smallbone said the cupboard had more of "a pungent smell than just the mustiness to me".
"These things are arbitrary.
"It would be nice if there was a rat smell guide ... and also a register that you could bring in something and it would read [for example] 85 out of 100.
"He's not saying his olfactory is so bad he needs to move out."
Smallbone expected to give a decision by the end of October.