Endeavour Villas residents' distress at rent increase

UNCERTAINTY: The Endeavour Villas are on the market for sale.
UNCERTAINTY: The Endeavour Villas are on the market for sale.

Seeing their beloved workplace of several decades go under was hard enough for a group of retired Endeavour (now EGA) employees, but the trouble hasn't stopped there.

Residents at Endeavour Villas on King Street have had to fight to stay in their homes after administrators Rapsey Griffiths Insolvency and Advisory, who own the units, tried to hike the rent up by almost 30 per cent from $210 a week to $270.

Two residents took the matter to the NSW Civil & Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the rent was then reduced to $250.

Rapsey Griffiths director Mitchell Griffiths said the increase was to bring the rent into line with the current market value.

It has been really tough. Our pensions haven't gone up so it means you've got to bite into what you've got.

An Endeavour resident

He said a recent rental review showed the rent for the villas was "significantly below market value", affecting EGA's financial position and ability to pay its outstanding debts.

But the residents, who live with various disabilities, have detailed the stress of the situation.

One was reduced to tears describing the fear of not being able to afford to stay in his home, while another said he had suffered seizures as a result.

"Normally when your rent goes up, it goes up $10, not $60," said one of the residents.

"It has been really tough. Our pensions haven't gone up so it means you've got to bite into what you've got."

"We felt the jump was just too big," another said.

"It affects us all in different ways. Some of the residents said they were going to have to move out. They live week to week."

The units are currently on the market for sale after failing to reach an undisclosed reserve at auction in October last year.​

The residents live in hope that someone will buy the property and leave it the way it is. A Cessnock council spokesperson said the conditions of the development consent were that the units shall be occupied exclusively by seniors and people with a disability, regardless of any future changes of ownership.

"We just want someone to buy it," a resident said.

"We think we will be able to stay but there's just uncertainty.

"You just think to yourself 'what's going to happen today'. It has been very stressful."

Some residents said they had considered registering for nursing homes, but that ultimately they don't want to move from their home of 10 years.

"Everybody wants to stay here," a resident said. "We've all grown up together. We all look after and support one another.

"We're very lucky to live here - it's close to town, it's a friendly neighbourhood."

The residents also consider themselves lucky compared to the many people who lost their jobs when EGA went into voluntary administration last year.

"It shouldn't have happened like it did," one of the residents said.

"The fact it was mismanagement - that's what hurts the most.

"I cried buckets when it closed. It was phenomenal."