Month after hoarder's death, neighbours still get stench
Residents living on the third storey of a Toa Payoh block thought things would get better after their hoarder neighbour died last month.
But the stench from his flat, which they have put up with for more than 10 years, has remained.
This is because the mess in his flat cannot be cleaned up until his next-of-kin can be located.
The dead man, who was in his 50s, lived alone and mostly kept to himself.
A concerned neighbour called the police after noticing that he had not been seen for a week. (See report on facing page.)
His decomposing body was later discovered in his squalid three-room flat at Block 195 Kim Keat Avenue on Nov 18. Also found in the flat were several cats.
When The New Paper went there last Friday afternoon, there was a new lock on the gate of the flat but the door was ajar.
Nearly a month after the man's death, the stink remains. Cockroaches and flies can constantly be seen around the flat.
Housewife Sarah Osnay, 56, who lives four units away from theflat, said she uses up four cans of insecticide a month, spraying the corridor outside her flat every day.
She said: "It's much worse at night because the wind blows the smell in the direction of our flat.
"(At night), the cockroaches come out of the flat and the cleaner would have to sweep them away the next morning. Sometimes my husband wakes up in the middle of the night to spray insecticide."
Another housewife, Madam Siti Hasan, 32, who lives next to the unit, keeps her door and windows shut at all times.
The mother of two children, aged five and seven, is distressed by the pests.
She said: "We've been putting up with the smell for eight years since we moved in, but the smell gets worse every day.
"Our family is suffering. My kids have sensitive nose problems because the air-con has to be turned on very often."
Last Wednesday, three volunteers from the Cat Welfare Society (CWS) were the first people to enter the flat since the body was removed last month.
They had received an e-mail from a neighbour alerting them to the cats in the unit last Monday.
One of the CWS volunteers, Ms Elaine Yap, 33, said they spent a harrowing two hours rescuing seven cats in the flat.
The volunteers had to clear bags of trash before they could even enter the flat.
Ms Yap said: "We brought masks and gloves, and tied plastic bags around our shoes.
"We had to step outside to take a break several times because of the smell. We felt nauseous and had headaches."
The CWS is now taking care of the cats, which were malnourished and had sores on their bodies.
When contacted, a Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council spokesman said: "Tenancy matters come under the purview of HDB. The town council manages the common areas of the estate."
He used to sleep at the void deck
There was always a stench from his neighbour's flat a few doors away.
But last month, the 66-year-old cleaner, who wanted to be known as Mr Yap, noticed that the smell was different.
After he failed to see his neighbour for a week, he felt something was amiss and called the police.
Mr Yap's hunch was right. The decomposing body of his neighbour, known to him only as Din, was found in the three-room flat on Nov 18.
A spokesman for the Singapore Civil Defence Force said the man was in his 50s.
The door to his flat was unlocked so no force was required to enter the flat.
Neighbours said the dead man, who used to work as a postman, was often seen sleeping at the void deck of the block.
A retiree who wanted to be known as Mr Tay, 62, said that every morning when he walked his dog, he would see Din sleeping on a bench.
He said: "He was big-sized and he wore many gold chains on his neck. He slept at the void deck every day and I didn't know he lived just upstairs.
"Once I even saw him peeing in the bushes (beside the void deck)."
Another retiree, Mr Yeo Sou Hai, 70, who has lived a few doors away from the flat for about 20 years, said his neighbour had been living alone after his mother died more than 10 years ago.
"His door was always closed and I've never seen any relatives. He was always sleeping downstairs, maybe because he couldn't stand the smell too," he added.
Mr Yap, who also knew Din for more than 20 years, said there had been a putrid smell from the flat for more than 10 years.
"Whenever I spoke to Din, I had to keep a distance (from him) because his (body odour) was very strong," he added.
"I brought the issue up with my MP (Member of Parliament) more than 10 years ago and his neighbours had also been complaining for a long time. If only something had been done sooner."