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Albo’s unexpected post-budget pile on

Written by on May 16, 2024

Anthony Albanese has defended his decision after the tenant living in the Prime Minister’s investment property went public with his rental plight.

Mr Albanese is planning to sell his Dulwich Hill three-bedroom home due to “changes in personal circumstances” – namely his impending wedding with Jodie Haydon – which small business owner Jim Flanagan has been renting for four years at $680 a week.

Mr Flanagan said he had been told by his agent his landlord “could be selling the house at some stage” and was given 90 days to vacate.

The average rent for a three-bedroom townhouse in the inner west suburb is $800 a week, but Mr Flanagan said Mr Albanese had frozen his rent during the Covid-19 pandemic and hadn’t increased it since.

He told The Daily Telegraph Mr Albanese’s decision to evict him stood in contract to the government’s $1.9bn package to increase Commonwealth rent assistance in Tuesday’s budget.

Mr Albanese was peppered with questions on Thursday morning, where he defended his decision and made his case for being a generous landlord over the four years Mr Flanagan had lived there.

“Not everyone who’s an owner of a property has a situation whereby the people living there are paying half the market rent,” Mr Albanese told ABC Radio.

In another interview, Mr Albanese was asked if Mr Flanagan “had to go”.

“Well, he’s refused to have discussions with the the the real estate agent, that that’s a matter for him. I wish I wish him well,” Mr Albanese said.

“He has been well looked after for a long period of time. But I am entitled to make decisions in my personal life including selling a property that I own because I wish to move on in my personal life in a different direction.

“The property was bought when my personal circumstances were different.”

Mr Flanagan’s ex-wife, Chrissy Flanagan, has previously been open about what it was like living in Mr Albanese’s property.

She revealed in 2022 Mr Albanese had reduced their rent during Covid-19 by 25 per cent and left it as is.

“At the start of the pandemic, out of recognition that my partner and I are small business people in the hospitality sector, he reduced our rent 25 per cent, which was amazing then,” she said in 2022.

“But what’s more stunning is that even now, two years later, he still hasn’t put it back up.”

Mr Albanese is under pressure more broadly to do something to address the crippling housing crisis.

The government earmarked billions of dollars to assist low-income renters, turbocharge more supply and address infrastructure bottlenecks, but critics say it’s not enough.

The Greens – long-time advocates of a rental freeze – said most Australia’s were struggling to swallow the government’s $9.3bn surplus for the financial year and tax cuts for the wealthy, while failing to address the crisis.

Greens leader Adam Bandt said given the government had given every household a $300 energy rebate in a manner touted as inflation-reducing, the government should do something similar with rents.

“What the government should do with rents (is) what it’s doing with power bills, get all the state and territory premiers together, and work out how to cap and freeze rents,” Mr Bandt told ABC Radio.

“If you can do it with electricity bills, you can do it with soaring rents, and instead Labor’s backed in unlimited rent increases and his budget is condemning renters to a housing hellhole.”

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