09 February 2011

29 Murray Street, Brunswick West, VIC, Australia

There are literally hundreds of these horrid, soulless boxes around Melbourne, often sitting where some lovely old Victorian house used to be before a mindless developer with more greed than taste knocked it over. The reason why we feature this particular block of eight apartments (four single bedroom, four double bedroom) is because I used to live there and this shitbox deserves a right slagging.

Now here's the kicker: when I last checked in mid-2010, the shoeboxes that pose as single bedroom flats are being rented for almost $1,000 a month. That's right, a thousand bucks. Well over $200 a week. It is a horrendous rip-off, largely preying on two groups. First are poor students desperate for the cheapest flat within reasonable distance of university, especially international students who don't get even the protection of a government-supplied condom while being raped up the arse by course fees. The second group are lonely old people trying to live in the suburb they've known their whole life and can no longer afford the houses of their youth, so they'll settle for anything rather than move into a wholly unfamiliar (and probably equally soulless) el cheapo housing development in the outer suburbs.

That rental price is almost totally based on your proximity to the city – you're fairly handy to most things, so you'll spend all your time out away from the place and pay heaps of money basically for somewhere to put your bed, your toothbrush, and a bit of food. The building itself does nothing whatsoever to earn a cent of the asking price. It's an ugly and decaying brick box without a trace of character, nor for that matter anything vaguely resembling a proper roof.

Even better, the real estate agents, Walshe & Whitelock, hock off units here with brazen lies and gross distortions that are a stretch even for real estate agents. The last one I saw for lease was a crack-up. "Security entrance"? The front door's frame is warped, so the door's lock doesn't hold; the back door is never locked; and they gave up on fixing the carpark gate so it is always open. At right is the "secure" back door swinging on its hinges during the high winds of Black Saturday. "Kitchen/meals area"? Once you put in a couple of cabinets because there is no pantry and almost no bench space or cabinets, even a hobbit would be lucky to be able to fit in a chair, let alone a table for meals.
I have, of course, saved the worst for last. "Outdoor area"? None of the units so much as have a balcony! The other two claims may be total misrepresentations of the truth, but this claim is a blatant lie. The only outdoor area on the property is the communal carpark and a little alley with a washing line:

“Walshe & Whitelock” is now a by-word for crappy properties and they deserve their own category. They dabble mainly in the lower end of the market and they just do not care.  Try calling up their office if you are a current or prospective rental tenant and they'll talk down to you like you are a 15 year old shoplifter. But at least you don't have to have inspections. In all my years of dealing with them (thankfully well behind me), they never once inspected my apartment.

Rating: Unpleasant, perhaps Damnably so.


  1. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

    Single Bedroom Apartment

  2. I went to this block today after being advised that a family day care I was interested in operated out of one of the units. It was disgusting. To enter through the back, you had to pass an old out door toilet that was blackened, without a seat or a door and smelt like the men of the block still used it. Oh the stench! Around the front wasn't much better. I didn't go in. I wasn't going to leave my son there. It was just too rank. Makes you wonder how these day care places get accredited.

    1. Are you serious, somebody's trying to run some sort of daycare service out of one of these shoebox apartments? You must be pulling my leg! I find that quite extraordinary. Out of curiosity, since I lived there for most of my student years, which apartment? I'd laugh if it were my old one, or the one where a friend lived.

      As for that outdoor toilet, I've never quite understood why the hell it's there, why it was installed in the first place, or why the people who own the building don't do something about it. It sounds like it is even more putrid than when I lived there - it had a door then and there wasn't quite as obnoxious a stench, though the thing still reeked on a hot summer day.

      I just Googled the block and I see one apartment was recently advertised for $300/week. I am gobsmacked. When I lived there, the apartments were going for about $180-200/week and even that seemed extortionate. How the hell has it gone up by that much in just a matter of a few years? And who on earth would pay that much?

    2. It is unbelievable, isn't it? It was unit 8. With no outdoor space, I do wonder if she just plonks the kids in front of the telly all day.

      By the way, you're my new favourite blog. I recognise many of these places and wouldn't be surprised if my place ended up being reviewed such is my landlord's apathetic approach to maintenance.

    3. Wow, didn't live in that one myself but unit 8 is one of the single bedroom apartments. They are bloody tiny. If I had four people around to my flat, it was absolutely crowded. Even three felt pretty full.

      Haha, thanks. I really need to keep this blog updated more. I've got a whole bunch of interesting/horrible places to share. And to be honest, my current place will probably appear on here when it ceases to be my current place! It's not so much due to landlord apathy though; it was just poorly built to begin with. Classic case of hasty, greedy development with no thought to posterity.