Politics

This Billionaire Developer Is Chucking A Tantrum Because Renters Might Get More Rights

He's worth $12 billion.

Property developer Harry Triguboff, one of Australia’s richest men, is threatening to jack up rents across Sydney in protest of NSW state government plans to improve renters’ rights.

Triguboff, a real estate mogul who founded development behemoth Meriton Apartments, is worth an estimated $12 billion and owns thousands of rental properties. This week he threatened to stop constructing rental properties in retaliation against the mooted plans to boost renters’ rights.

Despite the fact that more and more Australians are renting, thanks to skyrocketing house prices, renters have relatively few rights particularly compared to European countries. However, that’s starting to change with the Victorian government announcing a set of reforms last month designed to make life a bit easier for renters.

In NSW, the Labor opposition has released a renters’ rights policy that would increase the default length of rental leases from six to 12 months and limit rent increases. The policy also allows for the creation of long-term leases for up to five years. The NSW government responded by promising to boost renters’ rights by making it harder for landlords to evict tenants for no good reason.

All of these sound like eminently fair and reasonable changes but not to Triguboff, who has absolutely lost it. He told The Australian that the flagged changes could “discriminate against investors” (the horror!) and said that if he didn’t get more detailed answers from the government about what their policy was he would sell all of his rental properties and refuse to build new apartments.

The combination of selling off thousands of properties and limiting construction would limit rental supply and could drive up rents. So basically Triguboff is trying to hold the government to ranom by saying that if they try and shift the balance of power slightly from landlords and investors to renters he’ll use his enormous wealth and power to drive up rents.

What a top bloke.

It’s a pretty craven intervention from someone who has made billions and billions of dollars off the back of Australia’s housing affordability crisis. The irony is that if Triguboff did flood the market with thousands of apartments he would probably drive house prices down and make it easier for a few people to crack into the market. So there might be a silver lining?

The Greens NSW housing spokesperson, Jenny Leong, said in response to Triguboff’s comments that “People are already living with such fear and insecurity as a result of the current rental housing crisis — it’s not just arrogant it’s shockingly irresponsible for anyone to threaten mass evictions as Mr Triguboff has done.”

“One of the richest people in Australia’s is throwing a temper tantrum that will cause thousands of families to feel anxious about their housing security in the lead up to Christmas,” she said. “Gladys Berejiklian needs to answer the question: will you let a billionaire property magnate dictate your housing policy?”

Anyway the real moral of the story is that this guy has way too much money and way too many apartments. Share the wealth, man.

Feature image via Wikimedia