Landlords forgotten flood victims

Landlords Sarah and Kelly Fenn had a unit destroyed in the floods and cannot get funding, an insurance payout or any of the Relief Appeal money.
Landlords Sarah and Kelly Fenn had a unit destroyed in the floods and cannot get funding, an insurance payout or any of the Relief Appeal money. Sarah Harvey

THE FENN sisters are among the forgotten people of the January floods.

The Premier’s Disaster Relief Fund has not provided them with a cent and they are $66,000 in debt after restoring their unit at the Mi Hi Grove complex in Brassall that went under in the January floods.

Sarah and Kelly are landlords – but they are not high flying investors.

They did the smart thing and invested in Ipswich when many property gurus were spruiking it as the place to buy.

The sisters are professional dancers who work hard overseas. Now they are about to head back to dance on Caribbean cruise liners to pay off their debts.

“They said nobody is going to be forgotten in these floods – but we are in a ridiculous amount of debt and we haven’t seen one cent,” Kelly said.

“We don’t qualify for the Premier’s Fund because it is an investment property and we don’t live in it – so we get absolutely nothing.”

Kelly said she did not begrudge victims who have lost everything and have received help from the opening three rounds of the Premier’s Disaster Relief Fund.

“Yes, they deserve it because they lost everything,” she said.

“But we worked overseas for many years to save up enough money to get a deposit. Then we looked for a place to invest.

“The Mayor and councillors say to invest in Ipswich because it is a great place to live. We did that – and now this happens.

“I have to go back overseas and work full time for a year to pay back my half of what we owe. My sister has broken her toe, so I don’t know how she is going to make her half. We owe a lot of money to a lot of people.

“We are not investors. We don’t have a chain of units. We are not well off.

“We worked overseas for eight years and we still come back and pay our Australian taxes, even though we don’t live here. But now we’ve got to pay a flood tax.

“We are lucky that mum is an accountant and a lot of her clients volunteered their time for labour to fix everything up. A lot of family and friends came down to help which was just amazing. I just hope that there is a phase four and a big grant for the people who have had to spend money to rebuild.”

The Premier’s Disaster Relief Fund states that “third round assistance is not available for investment homes”.

The sisters have not sat back waiting. They investigated “every grant, every bit of funding”.

“Even if they want to help – as soon as you say that you weren’t living there they tell you that there is nothing available,” Sarah said.

The sisters’ mum didn’t initially want to tell them the extent of the damage, because she knew that they’d be on the first plane back from Germany.

“We were dancing through the floods and we kept asking mum what was happening,” Sarah said.

“We weren’t enjoying Germany that much, so we came back and thought everything was fine. Mum told us to meet her at the unit and we thought she was going to show us another unit to invest in.

“When we turned up there were all the skips out the front with rubbish in them. It was like a ghost town.”

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