UK couple from London trapped in Sydney, Australia after being evicted and then flights cancelled as Covid-19 pandemic unravelled

UK couple from London trapped in Sydney, Australia after being evicted and then flights cancelled as Covid-19 pandemic unravelled

Sydney-based property management group Sweet Potato Living caused a stir last week when they sent an e-mail instructing foreign national renters who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic to immediately leave the country. The e-mail also claimed that those who didn’t do so were “IRRESPONSIBLE.”

Londoners Connor Collins and his partner Jessica, who live in one of their apartments tried to do exactly what the email instructed after they both lost jobs in hospitality, they gave notice they were leaving and sold their car to pay for flights home.

However, their flights were then cancelled and they are still waiting for a refund from the airline so they can rebook.

Sweet Potato Living at first agreed they could stay on after the flights were cancelled but the company has now given them until April 20 to vacate the shared house.

They have nowhere to go and no way of paying a new lease.

“The day we got let off we booked flights home,” said Collins, but “the day after we booked the flights they got cancelled. To have $3,000 tied up elsewhere when you’re skint as it is… we have no other choice but to stay where we are.”

“Everyone in our house has been laid off from their jobs except one person,” he said.

“We all gave a heads up but they still took the payment anyway and we all went into overdraft.”

Collins says all members of the eight-person share house were originally given 10 days notice verbally and then Sweet Potato Living extended it to three weeks notice in writing.

Under the NSW Residential Tenancies Act 2010, tenants must be given at least 30 days notice before terminating a lease. Sweet Potato Living insists it is not a landlord and the people who pay rent to reside in its properties are ‘occupants,’ not tenants, so they do not have to give this amount of notice.

The tenancy academic and tenancy union policy states that in NSW law, you don’t need to own a property to be deemed a landlord. People sub-leasing properties to tenants are actually deemed landlords.

The company’s director Roger Gambotto said they were “bending over backwards” to make sure everyone remained housed: “No doubt you must understand that with the Covid-19 pandemic, we are doing the best we can under the current circumstances to ensure our occupants have a place to stay, and our employees maintain their employment with us.

“Our vacancy rates have risen to more than 50 per cent since the onset of the coronavirus crisis,” he said. “Accordingly, we must make many quick and urgent decisions, otherwise, we will not survive, resulting in all occupants losing their accommodation and all employees losing their employment.”


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Damon Mitchell

From the interviewed to the interviewer

As frontman of a rock band Damon used to court the British press, now he lives the quiet life in Spain and seeks to get to the heart of the community, scoring exclusive interviews with ex-pats about their successes and struggles during their new life in the sun.

Originally from Scotland but based on the coast for the last three years, Damon strives to bring the most heartfelt news stories from the spanish costas to the Euro Weekly News.

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