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Owner of seven properties says landlords getting a raw deal

Andrew Duggan owns seven homes, but he wants people to know he’s not a bad bloke.

He’s been flipping properties in Queensland from a home office in Sydney for 25 years and seems acutely familiar with the public perception of landlords.

“Landlords are very unpopular people,” Mr Duggan said.

“There’s the perception of the evil landlord, the cinematic slum lord idea.

“And there’s a perception that landlords are sitting on piles of cash and sitting around on our yachts.

“The reality is whilst we have the titles to these properties, they’re very much mortgaged.”

Man wearing hi-vis shirt mowing the lawn outside.
Landlord Andrew Duggan is considering getting out of the property game.(ABCNews/7.30)

He insisted he was not doing an interview to “cry poor”, but despondently declared “the good times for landlords are over”.

A long-time advocate of buying up real estate, he’s considering selling up and getting out of the property game.

Mr Duggan said the decline of his lucrative portfolio began five years ago when he was locked into an excessive interest rate with a major bank.

But he is also critical of tenancy laws and state-based land taxes.

After years of advocacy from housing organisations, the Victorian, Tasmanian and ACT governments have recently banned landlords from evicting tenants without grounds.

Man trimming a hedge.
Andrew Duggan says he doesn’t want to “profiteer from our tenants.”(ABCNews/7.30)

Queensland, where most of Mr Duggan’s properties are located, also banned the practice, except at the end of a fixed-term rental agreement.

“As far as I can see, landlords have next to no rights and tenants have all the rights. It’s kind of swung a long way in that direction and it’s probably swung too far,” he said.

Mr Duggan said the “default” position of civil courts adjudicating disputes between property owners and their renters was that “the property owner will always lose”.

He said he had increased the rent in at least one of his properties over the last year due to the increase in Queensland’s land tax.

“I’m not a charity, that’s for certain. I think we’re very fair with our tenants. We don’t want to profit from our tenants, but we do want to create an equilibrium between our incomings and outgoings so we’ re not going backwards,” he said.

This couple rent their apartment out for 10 per cent less than it’s worth

A man wearing glasses smiles next to a woman wearing a black top.
“We didn’t want to do what other people had done to us,” landlords Thomas Shafee and Katrina Alcorn say.(ABCNews/7.30)

When Thomas Shafee and Katrina Alcorn bought their own apartment and left the rental market five years ago, the Melbourne-based couple were overwhelmed with relief.

“As tenants [before owning a home] we have been in some situations with great landlords and we’ve been in some situations with terrible landlords,” Mr Shafee said.

“We’ve had uncertain housing in our lives too,” Ms Alcorn added.

With the pair now considering starting a family, they considered their one-bedroom Heidelberg Heights flat too small and have decided to upsize, but said they felt “icky” trying to cash in on the tightening real estate market.

Instead, they’ve offered the property up as an affordable rental and listed it for 10 per cent below what they had been quoted by other agents.

A man wearing a striped scarf standing next to a woman wearing a black top.
Thomas Shafee and Katrina Alcorn felt strongly about keeping their property affordable.(ABCNews/7.30)

“When there is so much pressure with the prices going up and the supply going down it’s really easy for people to be forced into situations where they are taken advantage of, so it’s nice to be able to do something that avoids some of those ethical pitfalls ,” MrShafee said.

“We didn’t want to do what other people had done to us,” Ms Alcorn said.

“That’s one of the reasons we feel really strongly about this.”

Mr Shafee said he and his partner intended to be “ethical” landlords and employ a hands-off approach to their incoming tenant.

“This is not some investment item that we’re talking about, it’s something that someone is going to live in, so it makes a big difference how [the property] is going to be run,” he said.

Mr Shafee and Ms Alcorn are renting the property through HomeGround Real Estate, an agency that offers affordable rentals and donates the profits it makes from management fees to Launch, a community housing organization.

Problem ‘just going to get worse’

woman sitting at a table
Michele Adair says “renters just haven’t been valued.”(ABC News: Tim Fernandez)

Renters’ advocate and chief executive of the NSW Housing Trust Michele Adair said state laws were still skewed in favor of landlords because property in Australia was seen as a means of wealth creation rather than shelter.

“There are lots of really good private landlords [that] provide affordable rental housing, but the problem that we have is that renters just haven’t been valued,” Ms Adair said.

“One in three people rent a home today and probably nine out of ten rents at some stage, yet we have had decades of government policy which just really disregards the rights of tenants and their safety and security.

“We continue to have this myth and fallacy pushed by private interest groups who, as we have seen, just continue to push the wealth creation and profit motive.”

Ms Adair said the so-called “motive” had led to the current rental crisis.

“There is no end in sight and without urgent action by all levels of government. The problem is just going to get worse for the foreseeable future and I’m afraid that means years and not months.”

Watch this story on 7.30 on ABC TV and ABC iview.



LinkedIn Decides to ‘Lean Into’ Visual Content With New Tools

LinkedIn has introduced new tools for people looking to share photos and videos on its platform.

That might seem like a strange announcement from a company dedicated to helping people share a semi-public version of their resume, form professional relationships, and look for jobs. But it turns out LinkedIn users have started to share more photos and videos on the platform.

The company says it’s seen a 20% year-over-year increase to “people adding visual content in their posts on LinkedIn.” So now it’s rolling out new features “to make it even easier to create visual content that helps you stand out and inspire your professional community.” (Emphasis theirs.)

The first of those features: clickable links in photos and videos. These links are displayed as buttons that LinkedIn users can resize and reposition to fit the composition of their “visual content,” thereby giving viewers one-click access to a “website, an upcoming event, recent newsletter, or other resources.”

LinkedIn has also created a variety of templates people can use to “easily create visually engaging content” by adorning their posts with their choice from “dozens of customizable backgrounds and fonts.” (Which is similar to the custom backgrounds Facebook allows people to use with posts on that platform.)

Both of those features are supposed to roll out “over the coming weeks.”

LinkedIn is also testing another feature, “carousels,” that it describes as “a new content format that allows you to mix images and videos to help your community learn in a digestible way.” The company says it’ll be “experimenting with carousels to see how members engage with it over the coming months.”



Who’s Afraid of a Facebook Hack? A Lot of People, Apparently

Are you worried about your social media accounts getting hacked? You aren’t alone. That fear seems to be growing, as a survey from NordVPN found that 76% of respondents are more concerned about the possibility than they were the previous year.

Facebook is the platform that people worry about the most, with 32% of respondents fearing their account will be hacked. This makes sense, after years of high-profile security breaches and the reality that you may never get your account back after a breach. We previously reported that millennials are more concerned about Facebook breaches than bank account hacks.

infographic covering American concerns about social media hacks

After Facebook, Americans worry about their TikTok accounts the most, with 26% of respondents concerned about a hack. Americans using other social media platforms are less concerned: only 21% of Snapchat users worry about a hack, followed by Instagram (20%), Twitter (19%), and YouTube (18%).

Think your accounts are safe? Eighty-nine percent of survey respondents know someone who has been compromised, 47% know up to five people, 27% know up to 10 people, and 15% know more than 10 people.

About 37% of Americans say they’ve been the victim of a hack themselves. The most commonly breached app is, of course, Facebook, followed by Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok.



CBD commercial occupancy rates have fallen across the country — so what will it take to get workers back into city offices?

The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a mass exodus of workers from central business district (CBD) offices — but, from this, came a new, hybrid work model that accommodated for employees’ unique needs.

While remote work remains the preference for many, some offices have struggled to convince their staff to make the trek back into central business districts and, experts say, it has come at a cost to newcomers.

In almost every major Australian city, during the month of June, new data from the Property Council of Australia shows commercial occupancy rates fell.

That rate is the measure of the area of ​​rented space compared to area of ​​total space available.

Melbourne’s commercial occupancy rate dropped from 49 per cent to 38 per cent, while Sydney’s fell from 55 per cent to 52 per cent.

Brisbane’s fell from 64 per cent to 53 per cent, while Adelaide’s dropped from 71 per cent to 64 per cent.

The only markets to record an increase in commercial occupancy were Canberra and Perth, where the rate rose from 53 per cent to 61 per cent and 65 per cent to 71 per cent, respectively.

Is working from home to blame?

The main culprit, according to the Property Council’s chief executive, Ken Morrison, is illness.

Mr Morrison said the results were disappointing, but not surprising.

“Office occupancy numbers have gone backwards for the first time in six months as a wave of [COVID-19’s] Omicron and flu cases kept workers away from the office,” he said.

A man addresses an event in a ballroom at night standing at a glass podium
Ken Morrison says illness likely triggered the fall in occupancy rates.(Supplied: Property Council of Australia)

“We have been seeing a steady increase in the number of workers returning to offices, but this stalled in June and has now declined in most capitals.

With winter nearly over, he said, it was encouraging that the latest COVID-19 wave had nearly run its course and that “recovery momentum can resume.”

Remote work not a ‘zero-cost exercise’

When occupancy rates drop off, small businesses, such as cafes, can miss out on a vital revenue stream.

Mr Morrison said governments needed to be mindful that encouraging people to work from home was not a “zero-cost exercise”.

“The costs are real and we see them in the vibrancy of our CBDs,” he said.

“We know office occupancy has been slow to recover, unlike other indicators, which snap back quickly.”

Are falling occupancy rates here to stay?

Tom Broderick — who heads up CBRE’s capital markets research — doesn’t think so.

“I think this appears to be a bit of a blip, with these most recent figures,” he said.

A man with short gray hair wearing a black and white suit and tie smiling
Tom Broderick says having fewer people in offices makes it harder to collaborate. (Supplied: Tom Broderick )

The July survey found the preference for greater flexibility, including working from home, was a better driver of occupancy levels, but this decreased from 63 per cent to 48 per cent.



iOS 16 Beta Tips Return of Battery Percentage Icon

There’s a lot to look forward to with Apple’s upcoming iOS 16 launch—chief among them the potential return of the battery percentage icon.

Released this week to developers for testing, iOS 16 beta 5 includes a small but impactful feature that displays your device’s remaining battery in numerical form (not just a decreasing bar), MacRumors reports. It previously appeared to the left of the battery icon, but Apple removed it from certain screens in 2017 with the introduction of iPhone X and its space-consuming notch.

Assuming the function makes it through to the final operating system rollout, this will be a welcome change for many iDevice owners, who currently have to swipe down to the Control Center or use the battery widget for a precise measurement of remaining juice levels.

Those enrolled in the developer beta can toggle on or off the indicator via Settings > Battery > Battery Percentage. The icon, as described by Engadget, appears slightly larger than what most people are used to, but otherwise remains the same. It still turns green and displays a lightning bolt while charging and appears yellow when in low power mode.

Not everything Apple tests in beta becomes part of the final release, but we should find out about the battery indicator soon enough. Apple typically releases the final version of iOS each year in mid-September, though you can check it out now via the iOS 16 public beta. Additional features coming to Apple’s mobile OS include Lock Screen customization, Live Text improvements, security enhancements, and the ability to turn your phone into a webcam.



How to Lock Down Your iPhone From Abusive Partners

Granting family members the ability to see your location and personal information on your iPhone can be helpful under normal circumstances. But if you feel threatened by a partner or other family member who has become abusive or violent, you can take action with Safety Check.

Introduced in iOS 16, this new feature allows you to sign out of iCloud on all your devices, revoke the access you have given to others, limit messaging to just one device, and stop sharing location data. The new mobile OS should launch in mid-September, but you can check it out early by downloading the iOS 16 beta.

Set Up Safety Check

Review Personal Safety Guide

You can set up Safety Check under Settings > Privacy & Security > Safety Check on your iPhone. Tap the learn more link to read Apple’s Personal Safety User Guide, which outlines how to protect yourself and your sensitive data if you do feel threatened by someone else.

At any time during this process, you can tap the QuickExit link at the upper right. This will immediately take you back to the Home screen, if you don’t want anyone to see what you are doing.

Start Emergency Reset

Tap the EmergencyReset button, then confirm the action through Face ID, Touch ID, or PIN. This will stop location sharing and revoke access to all apps. You will also be able to change your Apple ID password, review your security settings, and add or remove emergency contacts. Tap the Start Emergency Reset button to continue.

reset access

To revoke shared information with other people and apps, tap Reset People & Apps to start the process. Anyone you cut off from sharing won’t be notified of your action, but they may notice that the shared information is no longer visible to them. To revoke access for everyone and all apps, tap Reset. To revoke access for only certain people and apps, tap Manage Sharing & Access.

Remove or add trusted phone number

If you opted to reset the access for everyone and all apps, the next screen displays your trusted phone numbers. Tap the minus () button to remove a number you no longer trust. Tap Add a Trusted Phone Number to add a number. That number will then receive a text message with a verification code that you must enter on your current phone. Tap Continue.

update password

You are then asked to update your Apple ID password. You can tap Update Later in Settings if you wish to skip this step for now. Otherwise, tap the UpdatePassword button. Type and retype your new password, then tap the UpdatePassword button.

Remove or add emergency contact

You can then manage your emergency contacts. Tap the minus () button next to an existing emergency contact to remove that person, or tap Add emergency contact to add a different person. Tap Continue. You will then be told that the Safety Check is Complete. Tap donate.

Manage Access Manually

Manage sharing and access

Instead of going through the entire Safety Check process, you can choose to manually remove access to specific people and apps. To do this at the Safety Check screen, tap Manage Sharing & Access instead of Emergency Reset. You will then be able to review the people, apps, and devices that have access to certain information. Tap Continue.

Manage people and information

From the Sharing with People screen, you can see which contacts have access to your information and which services are being shared with your contacts. Under the People tab, you can select the people with whom you no longer wish to share your data. Under the Information tab, select the type of data you no longer want to share with others.

Tap the ReviewSharing button to make any further changes, then tap Continue. The next screen displays the apps able to access certain data. Review the list of apps and select any you wish to remove. Tap the Yo icon to see all the bits of information a specific app is able to access. You can then select any specific types of data to remove.

Manage apps

Tap the Information tab and select any pieces of information or features you no longer wish to share with apps, such as your location, camera, microphone, or media library. Tap the Yo icon to see all the apps with access to the selected data or feature and remove any from the list. When done, tap Stop App Accessthen tap Continue.

Remove selected devices

The next screen displays any devices currently signed in with your Apple ID. Select any that you wish to remove from your account. Then tap Remove Selected Devices.

update password

You can then tap UpdatePassword to change your Apple ID password. Tap Update Later in Settings to skip this step for now. Next, remove any existing emergency contact and add a new one if you wish. Tap Continue.

update passcode

The next screen lets you update your device’s passcode. To proceed, enter your existing passcode and then type a new one. You can also tap skip if you don’t want to change your passcode.

Reset FaceID

If you have previously set up an alternate or second appearance on a Face ID-enabled iPhone, you’re next given the chance to reset Face ID and remove that second appearance. To do this, tap Reset FaceID and follow the steps to scan your face.

Review other actions

The last screen tells you that the Safety Check is complete but describes other settings and features that may be sharing data or access with other people. Review the suggestions on this screen and take any further action that you may feel is warranted to protect your location, your privacy, and yourself.



The Nadesalingam family’s ‘very happy life’ in Biloela now that visas approved

The Nadesalingam family are living a “very happy life” in Biloela, just under two months after their return to the town.

The four members of the Tamil asylum seeker family were on Friday granted permanent residency visas, bringing to an end their four-and-half-year immigration order.

“My girls’ life is safe,” mum Priya Nadaraja said.

“[We’re] feeling very happy.”

Priya, her husband Nades Murugappan and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa have been living in Biloela, in regional Queensland, since June after the new Labor government granted them bridging visas.

The family previously spent four years in immigration detention after Priya’s visa expired in 2018 and both she and her husband’s claims for refugee status were rejected by the former Coalition government.

“A long journey, four and a half years… hard life,” Priya said.

Two smiling girls in school uniform.
Kopika and Tharnicaa Nadesalingam are enjoying being back at school. (ABC News: Tobi Loftus)

Priya said she and Nades were thankful to all of their supporters and friends, and to the federal government for the visas.

Nades has returned to work at the Biloela meatworks, where he worked before the family was taken away by immigration officials in 2018. The couple is also looking to start up a food van.

Priya is also learning how to drive.

“I’m good. Got confidence quickly,” she said.

She said the girls were back at school and loving it.

“I like learning because we get to learn maths and we get to be much more smarter,” Kopika said.

For Tharnicaa, seeing her friends was her favorite part about going to school.

The decision by Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to grant the family permanent residence visas has opened up a war of words between the government and opposition.

Mr Giles said the decision followed “careful consideration” of the family’s “complex and specific circumstances”.

“This government made a commitment before the election that, if elected, we would allow the family to return to Biloela and resolve the family’s immigration status,” he said on Friday.

Two smiling men stand on either side of a smiling woman and two smiling little girls.
The Nadesalingam family met Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in June after their return to Queensland.(Twitter: @alboMP)

But Shadow Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the decision to give the family a permanent visa undermined the immigration policies of past Coalition governments.

“Actions have consequences and this sets a high-profile precedent,” she said.

“It undermines the policy that if you come here illegally you will never settle in Australia.”

Banana Shire Mayor Nev Ferrier hopes this decision is the end of the family’s ordeal.

“People think the boats will keep coming because of that, but we’ll keep turning boats back hopefully,” he said.

“There’s nothing wrong with this family.”

Biloela now on the tourism map

He said the plight of the family, and the community response the family had received, had put Biloela on the national tourism map.

“I’ve had people tell me they’ve come to Biloela because they’ve heard about it,” he said.

Nadesalingam family
The Nadesalingam family were granted permanent Australian visas.(Australian Story: Robert Koenig-Luck)

Family friend Angela Fredericks said the “Home to Bilo” campaign that she was a spokesperson for would not be wrapping up just because the family was home.

“I truly believe this case is a really important case in Australia’s history,” she said.



Twitter Is Tweaking the Design of Spaces, Experimenting With New Features

Twitter has confirmed it’s currently experimenting with the design and features on offer to users of Spaces audio chat rooms.

Screenshots of an early test version, published by TechCrunch, suggest an updated concept which has yet to be finalized; Twitter noted that these images are “inaccurate and outdated,” representing “an initial version” of the new experience. However, a new look, personalized daily digest, and themed stations are teased in the shots.

The redesign looks set to reorganize the audio chat room into different topics, for example Music and Sports. Topics were launched last year for creators to tag their audio programs, but were limited. They could now become a core feature of the Spaces experience.

As to when we’ll get to see the “new” Spaces, an official announcement is expected “further down the road,” according to Twitter, but no time frame was given.

Twitter introduced Spaces to a “very small” feedback group in late 2020, inviting select members to join its experimental audio chat rooms. By the summer of 2021, Spaces was available to mobile and desktop accounts with over 600 followers, with the option to include co-hosts and charge for exclusive live audio experiences.



There Are 2 Google Meet Apps Now

Google has started merging its Meet and Duo video-chat apps to create what the company calls a “single video communications service.”

Starting this week, Duo is getting an upgrade to include video calling and meeting capabilities. Once fully rolled out later this year, the app’s name and icon will also change to “Google Meet,” featuring a camera in Google’s familiar colors.

“We have been doing this carefully, first adding Google Meet features to the Duo app, and now rebranding Duo to Meet,” a company spokesperson tells PCMag. “And by the end of the year, [we’ll] have everything in one web and mobile experience under Google Meet.”

Confusingly, the existing Google Meet is sticking around for a bit—now with different-color logos to help differentiate the new “Google Meet” from “Google Meet (original),” the latter of which will one day be put out to pasture, (alongside Labs, Wave, Reader, and, soon, Hangouts).

help article that outlines the different color logos for meet and duo

Color schemes for Google Meet, Google Meet (original), and Google Duo

If you’re puzzled by the alterations (and, frankly, we all are a little), Google released a couple of help articles about changes to Duo and the impact this has on various app icons.

One-to-one video calling app Duo launched in August 2016 as a FaceTime alternative for iOS and Android mobile users. Based on your existing phone number, it taps into your contact list and automatically adjusts call quality to changing network conditions—switching between Wi-Fi and cellular data without dropping the conversation.

Google formally launched Meet, formerly known as Hangouts Meet, in March 2017, but the enterprise-friendly, video-conferencing service really picked up steam in April 2020, when the platform became free to everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the years, Google has bulked up the programs, introducing features like virtual effects, live captions, and noise cancellation. Now it’s combining all that (and more) into one app.

“Existing video calling features from Duo are here to stay, including the ability to make video calls to friends and family by phone number or email address, use fun filters and effects, send messages, and ask Google Assistant to call using existing devices,” according to a June blog announcement. “All conversation history, contacts, and messages will continue to be saved in the app and there will be no new app to download.”

Users can also expect enhanced functions like custom backgrounds, meeting scheduling, in-house chat, integration with other Google tools, and the ability to invite up to 100 participants.



Australians have the chance to own an entire town and their own pub in East Gippsland just like popular show Schitt’s Creek

Australians have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity to own an entire town, including a charming historical pub nestled in Victoria’s East Gippsland region.

Coopers Creek was settled in the 1860s and has since been the site of copper and lime mining after not striking much luck digging for gold during Victoria’s gold rush.

The small town is set on 11 acres on the Thomas River and consists of 21 lots, all of which are up for grabs to potential buyers.

The peculiar listing has drawn parallels with popular tv show Schitt’s Creek.

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The show follows the adventures of the Rose Family who loses their fortune and takes up residence in the small town of Schitt’s Creek, which they bought as a joke during wealthier times.

Fans of the show or Australians wanting to own a piece of history now have the chance to buy the town of Coopers Creek, which at its height had a population of 250 people.

Mason White McDougall Real Estate expects the town may sell for around $2.5 to $3million, similar to the price of a single home in Melbourne’s Kew or Hawthorn.

Ian Mason, the Director of Mason White McDougal, said the town is the perfect place to live out the dream of starting a business or living off the grid.

“If you have ever wanted to own your own town or be the mayor of your own domain, this is the place for you,” Mr Mason said.

“Whether it’s setting up a tourism business or a desire to live off grid immersed in nature.”

The East Gippsland region is known for its stunning mountain ranges and is surrounded by beautiful bushland.

The town is a haven for outdoor adventures and therefore the region attracts bushwalkers, fishermen, kayakers and campers alike.

Mr Mason also advertised the towns stunning scenery and pristine natural environment as the perfect escape for the right buyer.

“Coopers Creek offers endless opportunities including a break from city life and a change of scenery in one of Victoria’s most pristine natural environments,” he said.

“Like the Rose family in Schitt’s Creek, Coopers Creek could be a life-changing move for the right buyer.”