Why this elderly couple can’t move into their new Wollongong apartment

Our dream home nightmare: Couple say they’ve been locked out of their own apartment THREE YEARS after they bought it – because bureaucrats snatched up the entire block

  • Retirees in their 80s Ilya and Menka bought a unit in Wollongong three years ago
  • The couple moved to a large home 50 years ago after migrating from Macedonia
  • After suffering a range of health issues, the couple said they needed to downsize
  • Their apartment was bought a second time and they were barred from moving in

A devastated elderly couple say they’ve been locked out of their own house three years after they purchased it off the plan – because Housing NSW gave developers an offer they couldn’t refuse.  

Retirees Ilya and Menka migrated from Macedonia to a large home in Wollongong, 115km south of Sydney, more than 50 years ago but in 2019 opted to downsize.

Menka has undergone a triple bypass, open heart surgery, while Ilya has had both her knees replaced and suffers from arthritis. Both are in their 80s.

The elderly couple desperately needed to move to a smaller home better suited to their limited mobility, something easier to clean and closer to the shops.

So with the help of their son Sash, they bought a unit at Shellharbour – about 22km from Wollongong – three years ago for $705,000 off the floorplan. 

But in March, 2021, the couple were told their apartment had been snatched up by Housing NSW – which offered to lease the entire block – and they wouldn’t be allowed to move in. 

Elderly Wollongong couple Ilya and Menka (pictured with their son Sasha) have been unable to move into their new home for three years

Elderly Wollongong couple Ilya and Menka (pictured with their son Sasha) have been unable to move into their new home for three years

Sash had handled most of the arrangements for the new home as English is the couple’s second language.

He said he was called to the real estate agency for a ‘meeting’ where he was told his parents would be offered a full refund and $10,000 compensation – but they wouldn’t be allowed to move in. 

‘He told me they’d pulled all the other units off sale… Housing NSW had made an offer to lease all the units. He was telling me it might not be a safe place for my parents,’ he told A Current Affair. 

The family refused the compensation offer, saying the post-Covid housing crisis meant they wouldn’t be able to find another suitable home. 

The apartments officially opened in October 2021, but the ongoing legal battle between Ilya, Menka and their real estate agency means they have been unable to move in.

Meanwhile, apartments within the complex are still available for rent at $550 per week on the real estate’s website. 

Menka and Ilya (above) said it is too 'hard' living in their current home and they need to move into the apartment

Menka and Ilya (above) said it is too ‘hard’ living in their current home and they need to move into the apartment

Menka said living in their large home was getting too ‘hard’.

‘I’ve waited too long. Nobody cares nothing, people suffer,’ he said.

Sash said it’s been hard to explain to his parents why they can’t move into their new home when all their would-be neighbours already have.

‘They ask me every week “what’s happening with the unit?”. It’s been sitting there vacant. I bought it in good faith, I would still like the unit,’ he said.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the agency for comment. 

The case remains before the Supreme Court.  

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