Truth behind Albo’s ‘ruthless’ eviction

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Landlord Albo v his tenant.


Plenty of people have rushed to Anthony Albanese’s defence amid claims he is ‘ruthlessly’ evicting the tenant of his investment home in Sydney’s Inner West, including the Prime Minister himself.

Labor and the Greens have largely waged a populist class war campaign against landlords over the past two year but many of those backing that conflict have somehow fallen in behind ‘Albo’ in the latest skirmish.

Chief among those claims, long denied especially by the Greens (rent freezes anyone?), is that landlords can do, within reason and legally, whatever they pretty much want with a property they have bought with their hard-earned, including selling.

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The Dulwich Hill home at the centre of the furore.

That’s as it should be. Albo said he’s selling to prepare for his upcoming marriage. Plenty of Aussies have done the same before, so fair enough.

Also key to the arguments backing Albo’s move is that he was giving his disgruntled tenant a massive rent cut.

It has even been suggested Albanese had saved his tenant Jim Flanagan, “at least $60,000 over the years on what the market rent of that property could have earned the PM as part of his investment portfolio”.

Really? $60,000?

Let’s have a look at that.

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Albos Tenant

Not happy: Tenant Jim Flanagan. Picture: Jonathan Ng

According to reports, Flanagan has lived in the home, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse, with no parking in Dulwill Hill for the past four years.

During the pandemic around May 2022, Albanese apparently dropped the home’s rent from $880 to $680 per week, a move that was widely praised at the time but one that was also widely seen as political spin.

Flangan’s ex-partner Chrissy Flanagan has since suggested the reduced rent may have been partly due to her personal connections with the PM, reported.

The website published several photos of Ms Flanagan with Albanese.

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Ms Flanagan and her ‘mate’ Albo.

But was Albo overcharging when Flanagan moved in around May 2020?

According to PropTrack the median rent for a three-bed house in Dulwich Hill then was $795 per week, 10 per cent less than Albo was asking. The home was six years old by then so any premium rate for a new home would have probably subsided. And Albo’s home, sitting on just 153 sqm with 139 sqm, nice as it is, is more a townhouse than a house. So less house but more coin in this instance perhaps.

Of course the market itself should reasonably decide prices paid in the majority of transactions, something often lost in the rental debate.

Even so, conceivably Flangan could have been overpaying by $85 a week if not more.

And if we are to drag out the calculator here, like many other pundits have, that means the tenant overpaid to the tune of around $8840 over his first two years in the property.

In the year to May 2023, the median rent in Dulwich Hill for three-bed houses remained around the $800 mark, so by the above calculation a benevolent Albo gave back to his landlord to the tune of around $4420.

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Do the math: both tenant and landlord have just about broken even.

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In May last year, on the back of supercharged immigration, rents across the country began to skyrocket, including in Sydney’s Inner West. In Dulwich Hill the median rent for three-bed homes has rapidly climbed around $900 per week.

Of course, rents are usually renegotiated on a yearly basis but if we are being fair in our calculations, Flanagan could have saved around $5720 over the past year in rent.

But again that median applies to houses, not townhouses. So it might not have been nearly that much.

As a comparison, a three-bed house, with two bedrooms and three car spots on Constitution Ave, Dulwich Hill is currently advertised for rent for $1050. It looks outdated in the photos but on 675 sqm it has more than four times the space of Albo’s place.

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‘Half market rate’? Not sure.

But all up, Albo and Flanagan have probably both broken even or thereabouts during their tenant-landlord agreement. A far cry from the $60,000 win for the renter.

And Albo’s claim he has charged “about half” market rent over the past four years also looks a tad iffy.

If anything, the case of Albo v The Tenant illustrates, again, the myriad shades of grey when it comes to the rental crisis. It’s far more complicated than a rich v poor, class war take that treats all parties involved as idiots and any attempts to solve it would do well to take that into consideration.