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Syrian refugee family in London, Ont., threatened with eviction over noisy kids

Azzura Lalani

By Azzura Lalani, The London Free Press

Syrian refugees Muhammad Othman (centre), his three children, Sipan (left), Sevine (right) and Sibar (far right) and his wife (not pictured) are facing a possible eviction from their apartment because their downstairs neighbour says they make too much noise. Photo shot in London, Ont. on Friday June 10, 2016. (Azurra Lalani/Postmedia Network)

Syrian refugees Muhammad Othman (centre), his three children, Sipan (left), Sevine (right) and Sibar (far right) and his wife (not pictured) are facing a possible eviction from their apartment because their downstairs neighbour says they make too much noise. Photo shot in London, Ont. on Friday June 10, 2016. (Azurra Lalani/Postmedia Network)

LONDON, Ont. - They fled danger and uncertainty to come to Ontario for a better life.

The last thing the Syrian refugee family expected was to face eviction from their new home.

But that’s the reality for Muhammad Othman, his wife and three young children, Kurdish Syrians who arrived in London only four months ago from Lebanon.

The reason for the ominous new twist in their lives that’s left Othman feeling "miserable?"

Too much noise from their place — the sound of furniture moving and, apparently, a child or children running.

“I was very happy and looking forward to (coming to Canada),” said Othman, through translator Daryos Dary, who is helping the family to adjust.

Last week, the family received a notice threatening to end their tenancy in the west London apartment owned by rental giant CAPREIT, saying they had seven days "to stop the activities or correct the behaviour described . . . and avoid eviction."

The notice followed two earlier warnings.

Such shape-up notices are nothing new to seasoned renters, but theirs has shaken up the refugee family.

“I came here to be a very good citizen and didn’t want a bad record,” said Othman, 41.

He said they don’t move furniture around, and there’s only the sound of his children playing.

“It’s hard for the kids to adjust,” he said.

The London Free Press spoke with the building manager, who referred questions to the company’s head office.

Repeated calls and e-mails seeking comment, last week and over the weekend, were not returned.

CAPREIT offered to move the family to a different unit, but it won’t be available until September, said Othman.

The family of five moved into their apartment three months ago.

Their two eldest children, Sevine, 8, and Sipan, 6, started school at Riverside elementary.

Othman’s wife stays at home with their youngest son, Sibar, who is almost two.

About a month and a half ago, someone new moved into the unit below theirs — and that’s when the family said its troubles began.

Almost immediately, the Othmans started getting noise complaints.

A letter dated May 5 from the company said, “should we receive any further complaints regarding the above mentioned, the landlord will proceed with legal action and will be serving you with . . . (a) ‘Notice to Terminate a Tenancy Early.’ This will place you in our legal department for early termination.”

The family said they covered as much of the floor as they could with rugs and blankets to try to muffle the patter of tiny feet at play.

Their toddler, Sibar, was the noisy one, they said, as he happily babbled away during a reporter’s visit to the apartment and zoomed around the place.

But the complaints kept coming.

On June 4, someone even called the police, they said.

It’s “very unfair,” said Dary. “They are children full of energy and excitement, it’s not fair to stop children being children.”

Othman said he’s worried the family will be on the streets, after having travelled halfway around the world, leaving Syria and Lebanon for a better life in Canada.

He’s even considered going back to Syria, whose brutal civil war has displaced millions of people.

“They don’t have (another) place to go,” said Dary. “They don’t have anything, they don’t even have a job, they don’t even speak English.”