‘Islamophobic and racist’ landlord is fined $12,000
Ontario landlord John Alabi, above, has been ordered to pay $12,000 dollars to two of his former tenants – a Muslim couple – for disrespecting their religion.
According to this report, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that he “harassed” Walid Madkour and his wife Heba Ismail and “created a poisoned housing environment” by failing to accommodate their religious practices when showing their apartment to prospective tenants.
Included in the complaint about Alabi’s behaviour was his alleged refusal to remove his shoes when he entered the couple’s bedroom, the room in which they prayed. This, said Ismail:
Was disrespectful and an act of racism.
The couple also alleged that, even though Alabi gave them 24-hours’ notice of his intention to show prospective tenants around the ground floor of his Brampton home, he did not always provide the five-minute heads-up they’d requested to ensure the wife was modestly dressed and they weren’t in the midst of their five daily prayers.
In December 2014, the couple moved from Montreal into Alabi’s ground-floor apartment. Following several disputes, including the couple allegedly wanting their landlord to be quiet after 10 pm, they agreed to terminate the lease on February 28, 2015. At one point, when Madkour complained, Alabi texted a reply that said:
Welcome to Ontario.
In the meantime, Alabi tried to rent out the accommodation and In December 2014. It was during this period that Madkour alleged that Alabi’s behaviour amounted to:
Racism and violation of our civil rights.
Alabi told the hearing that his shoes had never been an issue before and accused his tenants of trying to set up roadblocks to his renting their flat. He also accused them of trying to impose their way of life on him and said:
The fact that someone belongs to a religion does not permit them to inconvenience others.
The tribunal didn’t see it that way — especially after the tenants introduced their landlord’s Facebook page that had a “joke” about a devout Arab Muslim that they found offensive.
Alabi told the hearing that he:
Had freedom of speech and could post what he wanted on his Facebook page … He did not share the post to attack anyone. He said he shared it only because it made him laugh.
But vice chair of the tribunal, Jo-Anne Pickel, saw it as further evidence of his bias.
When considered together, I find that the comment ‘welcome to Ontario, Canada,’ the making of loud pounding noises outside the applicants’ door shortly after making that comment, and (Alabi)’s refusal to remove his shoes when entering (their) prayer space amounted to harassment under the Code.
In addition to paying them $6,000 each for injury to their dignity, feelings and self-respect, Alabi must also take an e-learning course on “Human Rights in Rental Housing.”