A small, rustic cafe on the outskirts of Sydney’s CBD is the perfect place to have a drink and chat.
But there are plenty of drawbacks as well.
“It’s not a cafe, it’s a house of cards, with no connection to the actual building, the building itself,” says the cafe’s owner, Ben Sten.
“They’ve taken a lot of the furniture, the plumbing, the electrical wiring.”
The house is in an area that has been used for the sale of illegal drugs and there are signs warning tenants not to have anything to do with the illegal activity.
The owner, who has been living in the building for a few years, is worried the council is looking at the building as part of a broader “anti-social environment”.
“It could be a lot worse,” he says.
“So far, we’re looking at just sitting around in the house, and having a chat.” “
A couple of weeks ago, Mr Sten moved in, but says he’s not the only one to be experiencing problems. “
So far, we’re looking at just sitting around in the house, and having a chat.”
A couple of weeks ago, Mr Sten moved in, but says he’s not the only one to be experiencing problems.
“My wife is pregnant, and we’ve had a couple people come in who were staying with us for the last month,” he explains.
“I just feel like we need to stay here.”
Mr Stena’s family is a former squatters’ camp, and he says he doesn’t want to leave the building.
“There’s a lot going on here,” he tells 7.30.
“You don’t want the police to come and see what’s going on, what’s happening here.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by the Sydney Housing and Planning Agency.
“This type of situation could affect anyone who rents or uses this building,” spokesperson Ben White said.
“A lot of people are using it as a temporary home, or are looking for a place to live.”
‘Not a cafe’ The building has a history dating back to the 1880s, and the owners of the property have been fighting to keep it going.
But it is in the hands of a local company, which is still not registered as a tenant.
“If we had to, we could take over the property at a very early stage,” Mr Stens says.
The owners of The Sten Family Cafe have taken to the streets to protest the council’s decision to demolish the building – with their supporters chanting slogans, including “no-one lives in fear”.
“I think the council should have to do a proper investigation to see if they’re going to do anything to protect the public,” Mr White says.
He believes the building is being used as a shelter, and that it could become an “endangered” building in the future.
“When the council does get involved in the property, they could end up damaging the property,” Mr Whit says.
‘They have to move’ “We’re going back to court and we’re hoping that the building will be sold and that we can buy it and move into another building,” Mr Spence says.
“[The owners] should move on to something else.”
But the building’s owners are not going to give up easily.
“As soon as they go and sell, we’ll take the fight to them and we’ll fight for a proper, proper investigation,” Mr Brown says.
Mr Brown’s mother was a squatters who were living on the premises at the time.
“She would have loved to have lived there, to have had a home,” he adds.
“And I don’t think they should have been allowed to occupy the property.”