Nadege Morel and her husband Davis are preparing to move house after their home of more than half a century was acquired by the previous government for the East West Link. Photo: Luis Ascui
More than a dozen homes acquired for the East West Link are empty and are likely to remain so for months. Others are being rented out to their previous owners for no or little rent.
State government data has revealed that 88 acquired properties are being leased to the people who were living in them before they were taken to make way for the dumped toll road.
This figure includes renters (who still pay the same rate as before) and former owner-occupiers who are living almost for free in their old homes until they decide whether they will buy them back or move on.
Elderly Parkville couple Nadege Morel and Davis Michaud are among those who are still living in a property that has been acquired. Soon they will begin the demanding process of packing up their home of more than half a century, and the place they thought they would stay until they died.
“We didn’t want to move in the first place. We fought tooth and nail,” Mr Michaud said. “But at one stage people were saying if the government changed [the East West Link plan] would come back.”
Of the more than 100 properties acquired for the freeway, just six have since been leased on the open market.
This figure excludes the units in the “exclusive” Evo building, which were purchased from off-the-plan buyers when it was revealed the building would have been encircled by new road flyovers. Two-bedroom units at the Manningham-Street address are up being advertised for more than $2100 a month.
A total of 17 acquired houses and two acquired businesses remain empty and all but two will stay unoccupied until August, when it is confirmed whether the former owners will buy them back. Some of the homes will also require substantial maintenance before they can be rented.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said on Friday that he feared the government would lose money if the acquired properties were sold.
“What we have is potentially $200 million of acquired property that on today’s valuation may be worth barely half that,” he said.
“There’s possibly nearly another $100 million of writedowns that this government has not told the taxpayer about.”
In Parkville, Nadege and Davis have been told they will receive $1.35 million for their seven-bedroom home. But this sum will not be enough to cover the cost of their new four-bedroom home in Ivanhoe and, because they have not yet received the money for their old house, they had to dig into their savings to cover the $139,000 deposit.
“All my funeral money – everything,” said Mr Michaud, for whom it was clearly a sore point.
The couple will also have to spend their own money to pay for help to pack up all the possessions they have accumulated since they first moved into the house in 1956. Packing it themselves would be a near-impossible feat for two people aged 83, but they said they were only being compensated for the cost of the transport.
It is not yet known what will happen to the house once they move out. Mr Michaud suspects it will be knocked down.
A state government spokesman said all decisions on the future use of the acquired houses and businesses would be made after August, when the former owners have decided whether they want to repurchase the properties.