Dead animal smell - is tenant or landlord responsible?

16 Replies

Tenant notified of a bad smell, like dead animal. Who is responsible for discovering what's causing it & fixing the situation? If it's the landlord's responsibility, who do I call? Thanks in advance for responses!

It's the landlord's responsibility, unfortunately. And, it's quite common in structures that are elevated (not continuous foundation/slab) where animals die underneath the property. There are "critter control" companies who do this as well as national pest/rodent control companies. I wish I could tell you that I have no knowledge/experience with this issue but actually I have encountered it numerous, numerous times. Ugh!

@Marlen Rum it depends on the situation. My lease holds the Tenant responsible for ordinary pet control and that would include a dead mouse under the stove. If the tenant is unwilling/unable to find it, you can go over and try to help or just wait a few days and the smell will go away.

Originally posted by @Mark Fries :

@Sam Leon

I dont know.... I get a dead animal removal request every month it seems but after 5 days the smell just goes away...mother nature takes its course...

Seriously, every month?! Wow

Do the tenants get upset, or complain that the place is uninhabitable?


I would walk the property from the interior. See from where in the property is the smell coming. Is it a wall or vent and then call like critter control. 

Thanks everyone for your input. I ended up calling a pest control company, since the house is currently listed for sale and the tenant has been cooperative (she has 1 month left on the lease).  They said there seems to be something that died between floors (1st floor ceiling & 2nd floor). They recommended to not tear up the ceiling and just let it run it’s course. They ran an air cleaning machine and will do it again tomorrow. They’re charging me $150. Does that sound right?

@Marlen Rum Your tenant probably sees this and a “serious” issue, or at least an inconvenience to constantly smell death whenever they go into a certain room. It doesn’t smell good and can make rooms unbearable to be in.  If they feel like they can’t rely on you to solve problems regarding the property, they might vacate at the end of their lease.  Which isn’t the end of the world, but that could cause you a month or 2 of lost rent while you find a new tenant, if it even takes that long.

As previously suggested, walk the property with the tenant (if you’re able) and see where the smell is the strongest.  If it’s a mouse under the stove type of situation that’s an easy fix.  Just remove the mouse.  If there’s reason to believe it’s on the walls or in the vent, I would get it taken care of.  The odors that are being released are obviously the body decomposing.  When the body decomposes, it releases molecules/gasses that can be harmful.  If it’s a mouse, it might take a few days to go away and not have any time to cause any harm.  If it’s a bigger animal, like a possum or raccoon, it can take much longer for the smell to go away causing longer exposure and a higher chance of health risks.


There is a great product called

back a zap

Created by an exterminator

Enzyme bases, not a perfume

Formulated for dead mice or rats

When something dies in crawl space , walls ect.

Works well other odors like garbage sites ect

Available on amazon

Works better than other odor eaters

Originally posted by @Mark Fries :

@Sam Leon

I dont know.... I get a dead animal removal request every month it seems but after 5 days the smell just goes away...mother nature takes its course...

I am guessing 5 days is the time it takes for the dead animal say a rat to be eaten by a larger animal like a possum, skunk or raccoon?  Or 5 days is how long it takes for a whole army of ants to consume a rat whole?


@Sam Leon

I'm just saying after 5 days the bad smell usually goes away. Ya know that horrific dead animal smell? What actually happens with the dead animal I honestly could care less as long as the smell goes away..

Most of my tenants smell like a dead animal so I don’t give it much thought . When they call about stuff like this I advise them to go take a shower ..then report back .

I did have a skunk die under my one triplex entrance . I dumped some gravel over the hole as a make shift grave in an effort to mask the smell . Time heals all wounds.