‘Massively Inaccurate’: Albo’s Tenant Slams ‘Misinformation’ Spread By PM & Media On His Eviction

When Jim Flanagan discovered he was being evicted from his home it became a national story, due to the fact that his landlord was Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. However, the misinformation and media-manhunt that followed made his life “hell on earth” he told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

Jim has spent the last four years living in one of Albanese’s investment properties in Dulwich Hill. The PM has now made the decision to sell up due to changes in his “personal circumstances”, meaning Jim is being forced to vacate.

When Jim was notified of his eviction in early May, he went public to try and raise awareness of the issues faced by renters. Jim had no beef with Albanese, and constantly stated that the PM was a “role mode landlord”.

“I have never disputed Albo’s, or indeed any property owner’s right to do whatever they want with the properties they own,” Jim told PEDESTRIAN.TV in an interview.

Jim Flanagan, Albo’s tenant. Source: Supplied.

Instead, his story was co-opted by certain media publications to criticise the PM. As the story evolved, Jim also found himself the centre of criticism, being labelled “ungrateful”.

Jim did however, take issue with how the Prime Minister said things that were “utterly false” about his tenancy. According to Jim, the media failed to cross check these accusations before publishing their stories.

Debunking Albanese’s claims about his tenant

Albanese claims his tenant was undercharged

The amount currently paid by Jim to the PM for his three-bedroom home in Dulwich Hill is $680 a week. A stunning bargain for the tenant, that Jim “constantly praised” Albanese for.

But when the story of Jim’s eviction gained national attention on May 16, Albanese deflected criticism by telling the ABC that his tenant was charged “about half what the market rental is” — which Jim said is “massively inaccurate”.

“The assertion that I was currently being charged ‘half the market rate’ is completely absurd,” Jim told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

“Three bedroom town houses in Dulwich Hill do not go for anything near $1400 a week.”

Albanese’s/Jim’s Dulwich Hill home interior. Source: realestate.com.

This claim is backed up by a quick search on realestate.com, which shows that the average cost of three-bedroom rentals in the suburb is about $1050.

Various news outlets also reported that this decreased price resulted in Jim being saved as much as $50K over the last two years — however the facts around this are incorrect too.

Jim only began paying the reduced rent in late 2021 as a gesture of goodwill from his landlord during the pandemic. However, prior to that Albanese charged a whopping $880 per week — well above the market rate.

“We suspected soon after we moved in that we had been overcharged,” Jim stated, comparing the price of his rental to others on the market.

A piece by realestate.com confirmed Jim’s suspicious that he was initially overcharged, calculating that he was charged $85 more per day than the market value. But instead of criticising the PM, Jim instead views the balance as equal.

“It can be fairly confirmed that we were most definitely overcharged for several years. And that when that is net-netted against the undercharge over the last few years, it just about evens itself out,” he said.

Albanese says his tenant ‘refused’ to work with an agent

In the same interview, Albanese claimed Jim had “refused to have discussions with the real estate agent”.

Now be warned dear reader, you might find this next part hard to believe — because Jim Flanagan made the shocking revelation that real estate agents can’t always be trusted. Gasp! How wild?!?

“The suggestion that I was not cooperating with the estate agent is also completely false,” Jim slammed, adding: “I’d had an inspection in the property only the week before.”

Pictured: Jim’s landlord. (Photo by Scott Gardiner/Getty Images)

He then shed light on the only instance he “refused” discussions.

“The only time I cut off communications with the estate agent was when he verbally suggested that the rent increase,” alleged Jim.

“Whenever that happened, I specifically asked him to put that in writing — and then he would disappear and I’d never hear from him again.”

Ya know, just real estate agent things!

Jim’s story gets blown out of proportion

As well as managing the spread of misinformation around his eviction, Jim Flanagan also endured what he described as his idea of “hell on this earth”.

First picked up by The Daily Telegraph, Jim watched as his effort to raise awareness about the difficulties of tenant/landlord negotiations turned into media storm.

Jim was first labelled as renter “begging the PM” not to evict him, and had his story used against the “hypocritical” Prime Minister for evicting a tenant during a housing crisis.

Source: The Daily Telegraph.

But the tides turned on Jim when Albanese claimed he was severely undercharging him. Suddenly he was the one scrutinised as an “ungrateful swindler”, and plastered as the enemy of the hard-working property owners.

Jim said that he was followed by paparazzi, and that journalists hounded his friends and neighbours for dirt on him. All because he tried to speak up.

So why did Jim’s story get so much traction? And why was he suddenly made a martyr in the war between renters and landlords?

“It seems there is this unconscious hostility towards the 33% of people that rent. Like they should just work a bit harder, and then they can shut up and stop moaning about renting issues,” Jim mused.

“I just think any story, especially that is expressed by renters, becomes this acceptable form of punching down… And I became a punching bag for a lot of commentators.”

And it’s not hard to see Jim’s point. Remember when well-known renter’s rights advocate Jordan van den Berg AKA Purple Pingers tried to start a national discussion around squatting as a way to battle the housing crisis… and then received death threats?

For whatever reason, it seems like in Australia’s media landscape you are either a quiet and obedient renter, or an “entitled” whinger as Jim was labelled.

What Jim’s eviction highlights about the rental crisis

The story of Albo’s tenant’s eviction has encapsulated the problem with debate regarding the housing market and rental crisis in Australia.

Renters and landlords are pitched against each other in a system that entirely favours property owners, and any efforts from renters to have increased rights are completely squashed by those with all the power.

Jim Flanagan did not set out to start a witch hunt against the Prime Minister. Nor did he hope that making his story go public would have any chance of swaying Albanese’s mind to evict him.

Instead, he wanted to raise awareness for the need for more nuanced discussion around the rights for renters. He had hoped to use the platform given to him as “the Prime Minister’s tenant” to inform those who may not know how hard it is to be a renter.

“I’m not sure it’s possible to understand quite how desperate the landscape is for renters and how traumatic an event it is when you need to find somewhere else to live,” stated Jim.

“Being removed from your home is always hugely stressful, and at the moment it’s accompanied by knowing you’re stepping into an abyss, the worst rental crisis in the city’s history.

“Prices are astronomical, completely detached from the average earnings of most renters, and to be blunt, there is sweet fuck all available anywhere.”

Jim and his dog. Source: Supplied.

On top of that, renters are made the “punching bag”, despite being basically powerless to negotiate with their landlord or real estate agents — provided they don’t disappear!

Sure, Jim was given a discounted rent for a few years, but so what? Why is that something that the renter has to be so appreciative of?

“Landlords — good, sensible, smart ones anyway — regularly look after good, reliable long term tenants by charging them below market rate, knowing that in return they will look after the property,” said Jim.

“This extremely common practice does not immediately cast a tenant as a no good, greedy bludger.”

And yet for speaking up, Jim was dubbed the greedy bludger.

The idea that the tenant-landlord relationship should consist of nothing but appreciation from renters is at best, weird, and at worst verges on an abuse of power.