London

London man fearful after roommate utters death threats and racial slurs

A London, Ont., man is trying to come to terms with a violent encounter with his roommate that left him terrified for his safety and jumping through hoops to find a way to get out of his lease.  

Zakir Hossen said he moved to Canada from Bangladesh to be safe, but now he's not sure if that's true

Up until last Friday, Zakir Hossen's experience at the Marq had been pleasant. But that evening, his roommate had an outburst that quickly turned into a verbal assault, requiring assistance from London police. (Shutterstock / Kjell Leknes)

A London, Ont., man is trying to come to terms with a violent encounter with his roommate that left him terrified for his safety and jumping through hoops to find a way to get out of his lease. 

Zakir Hossen moved into the Marq, a high-rise located at 75 Ann Street that is marketed toward students, back in 2019. He had moved from Bangladesh to Canada in 2016 to complete his masters.

Hossen said he was matched up with a roommate by the landlord and the two barely spoke. His experience at the building had been pleasant, until Hossen asked the roommate if he was moving out when his lease ended.

"He just started abusing me right away and I was so surprised and shocked. I just asked a simple question ... He got angry and started getting really, really aggressive," said Hossen.

While Hossen was locked up in his room, he said his roommate smeared his own blood on the wall and threatened to shoot him. (Submitted by Zakir Hossen)

Hossen immediately locked himself in his room. About an hour later, his roommate started banging and kicking the door while making death threats.

CBC News has heard the alleged recordings of the verbal assault that took place that evening, which included threats of sexual violence, death threats, racial slurs and derogatory language.

The harassment escalated and, at one point, the roommate smeared his own blood on a wall.

Hearing all the commotion and fearing that his roommate could barge into his room, Hossen called the police. 

One of the reasons that I moved out of my country, leaving my family behind, was Canada's safety and security.- Zakir Hossen

London police told CBC News they attended the scene and charged a 24-year-old man from London with one count of uttering threats and one count of resisting arrest. The man was also banned from the building, Hossen said.

While Hossen is trying to put the incident behind him, he fears for his safety in the future.

"One of the reasons that I moved out of my country, leaving my family behind, was Canada's safety and security. It was not the money, it was not anything else. It's safety and security ... I really, really did not expect something like this to happen."

While he felt his requests to break his lease went ignored by the Marq, Hossen said after posting his story on social media and several calls from CBC News, his building manager is allowing him to get out of his lease and move out of the building. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

That night, after his roommate was removed from the building, Hossen was moved to a different unit. He wanted to leave the Marq altogether, but his lease doesn't end until April.

"I'm in the same building. He knows where I live. What if he gets mad again and tries to look for me outside of the building? I don't feel safe. I'm not getting enough sleep." 

Hossen said he pleaded with his landlord to let him break his lease and move out, but was told that he could only leave if he found someone to transfer his lease to. 

"I was really disappointed. I really thought they would be empathetic that, you know, this has happened to me and that they would say, 'We're sorry and that if you wanted to move out, you can do that.' But instead, they are like, 'We cannot do that.'"

Hossen said his landlord initially ignored his requests. After posting his story on social media and after CBC News reached out several times to the Marq and its parent company Centurion Property Associates with no response, Hossen was contacted by his building manager Monday afternoon and was told they had found a new tenant to take over his lease. 

Hossen said he was surprised by this change, but happy with the outcome. He said he will not be moving in with roommates ever again. He hopes his story serves as a reminder to landlords to have more sympathy toward their tenants. 

"Landlords should proactively contact the victims who have suffered these kind of incidents and talk to them and see what they can do to make them feel better and safer rather than waiting for them to say they don't want to live here." 

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