Albanese’s tenant makes public appeal over eviction

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese "doesn't inspire a strong reaction", according to Bonham. Photo: AAP

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese "doesn't inspire a strong reaction", according to Bonham. Photo: AAP Photo: AAP

A tenant in one of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s investment properties has made a personal appeal after getting an eviction notice.

Jim Flanagan, 45, said his uncertain housing situation was an example of the crisis facing renters across Australia.

He has rented Albanese’s investment property – a townhouse in Dulwich Hill, inner-western Sydney – for four years. But the small business owner told The Daily Telegraph he unexpectedly received a termination notice on May 8.

Albanese reportedly wants to sell the property due to his changed life circumstances, including his recent engagement to Jodie Haydon.

Flanagan told Seven’s Sunrise on Thursday morning that the looming eviction left him in a “pretty tricky circumstance”.

“I run a small business, a very short walk from where I live. Options in the rental market generally in Sydney are extremely limited. A difficult set of circumstances for anyone,” he said.

Flanagan said it was Albanese’s right to sell the property, but it highlighted the problem for renters in Australia.

“I think renters again are really exposed at the moment, that power imbalance has been exacerbated by the rental crisis and the cost-of- living crisis,” he said.

“I guess we’re just looking for again a little bit more of a considered communicative approach. Maybe a discussion.

“I certainly wasn’t even provided with the opportunity to discuss an increase of the rent, staying a little bit longer, potentially if the house was going on the market.

“I guess we’re just looking for a little bit more engagement when it comes to kicking us out of a property.”

The Daily Telegraph reports Albanese dropped Flanagan’s rent to $680 during Covid, and has not raised it since. (Weekly rents for a three-bedroom townhouse in Dulwich Hill are usually about $800.)

Flanagan said he decided to speak out after this week’s federal budget.

With Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing rents rose 7.8 per cent in the year to March – the strongest annual increase since 2009 – critics lamented that budget measures did not meet the scale of the housing challenge.

Almost a million Commonwealth Rent Assistance recipients will get a 10 per cent boost to payments, after a 15 per cent rise last year. It is the first back-to-back rise in more than 30 years.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Tuesday also unveiled measures targeted at increasing housing supply, including incentives to lure more workers to construction, $1 billion for enabling infrastructure and tax breaks for build-to-rent developments.

“We need to address housing supply and the budget last night adds to that support,” Albanese told Triple M Adelaide on Wednesday.

But Property Council of Australia chief executive Mike Zorbas called it a silver-medal budget.

“There is a solid investment in housing and better planning of our cities,” Zorbas said.

“However, the scale of the housing challenge and the need to better unlock land for all property asset classes including industrial requires a doubling of this investment going forward.

“We will continue to champion better investment settings and greater investment in our cities.”

His sentiments were echoed by Justin Simon, chair of housing advocacy group Sydney YIMBY.

“Much more investment in infrastructure and incentive payments to the states will be needed if we’re going to hit the National Housing Accord target [of 1.2 million new homes over the next five years],” he said.

Others called for direct government intervention to prop up housing construction.

“Really, it is business as usual and we have seen that business as usual is not enough of an injection into the social housing sector to see the increase in supply we really need,” University of Sydney urban policy analyst Nicole Gurran told ABC News.

Because 98 per cent of new homes were delivered by the private sector, housing construction languished in times of high interest rates and material costs, she said.

“We need to build up the sector of the housing system that can build counter-cyclically, and that is social and affordable housing and build-to-rent.”

Greens housing spokesman Max Chandler-Mather said the rent assistance rise was a “slap in the face” to millions of renters doing it tough, urging a mass build of public housing and removing tax breaks for property investors.

“Labor has left millions of renters and mortgage holders to rot in housing hell,” he said.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the budget amounted to pre-election cash handouts and forgot people suffering housing stress.

“We’ve got people living in cars and in tents at the moment,” he told Channel Nine.

“The government’s created a housing emergency in our country. They weren’t even mentioned last night.”

-with AAP

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