Australian PM defends evicting reluctant tenant from his Sydney home

Australianprime minister Anthony Albanese has defended his decision to evict a tenant from his Sydney property, citing “changes in his personal life”.

Mr Albanese said he is selling the property ahead of his wedding with partner Jodie Haydon and has asked the tenant, Jim Flanagan, to leave.

Mr Albanese, who sent a termination letter to Mr Flanagan last week, has claimed to have been “more than fair” as a landlord.

Mr Flanagan, 45, has been renting the PM’s Dulwich Hill property for four years and has said an eviction would be devastating.

He has reportedly been paying AUD680 (£358) a week for the three-bedroom property and the rent hasn’t been raised since it was lowered during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As renters, ideally I guess we’re just looking for a bit more of a considered and considerate approach when it comes to evictions, terminations, issuing notices to vacate,” Mr Flanagan told ABC Radio Melbourne

“I guess I was just a little surprised I wasn’t afforded that. It seems a little bit misaligned with the messaging Labor has been putting out ... about recognising how difficult it is as a renter,” he added.

“When you’re a renter, there’s a power disconnect I guess between landlords and renters, that’s just the way of the world.”

Mr Albanese has said Mr Flanagan “paid about half what the market rental is” and that he “kept that situation there post-Covid when the rent was substantially reduced”.

“I’ve had changes in my personal life, the tenant in his own words has been living in the property, his personal life and arrangements have changed as well, there were other people in the property,” the prime minister said.

“I’ve had changes in my life and because of that decided to sell the property.”

Mr Flanagan has asked the PM to let him stay, saying eviction “will kill me, it’s a crippling blow”.

“The small business I operate is about a minute’s walk from here. I don’t have access to a vehicle currently, so I absolutely need to try and make sure that I’m as close as I possibly can be,” he told Nine News.

“I had a look at the market and my options are extraordinarily limited, that is what it is,” he added. “Again, my options are extremely finite.”

Greens housing spokesperson Max Chandler-Mather has criticised the PM’s decision to evict the tenant.

“Here is what the prime minister could have done: signed a longer lease with that tenant and then sold the property with the tenant in it,” he said.

“Maybe he makes a little less money on the sale. I think that is a pretty fair deal if the tenant gets to keep his home.”