News State New South Wales Pair charged after man allegedly assaulted in Surry Hills for failing to pay rent
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Pair charged after man allegedly assaulted in Surry Hills for failing to pay rent

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Police allege a tenant who owed back rent has been assaulted and held against his will until he paid up. Photo: AAP
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An inner-Sydney tenant has been held against his will by his landlord, and assaulted by a man accompanying him, after falling behind on his rent during the coronavirus, police say.

The male tenant, 24, owed back rent on a Surry Hills property due to financial difficulties and told police he had negotiated a payment plan with his landlord.

Police say 56-year-old property owner Mario Venneri and Anthony Mowad, 57, attended the Clifton Reserve home about 3.30pm on Wednesday, where they allegedly assaulted the 24-year-old and prevented him from leaving until he paid all the arrears.

The young man did so and immediately reported the incident to police.

It is understood the terrace is rented for almost $1,000 a week.

Detective Superintendent Tim Beattie on Friday said the tenant was held hostage until he produced the funds.

“There was a physical altercation and it became very clear that the tenant was unable to leave, he was contained against his will,” Mr Beattie said.

“And that led to the repayment of the funds.

“The rent arrears was a product of the COVID crisis and we know that the tenant had been negotiating to repay that money.

“It became very clear that the tenant was detained against his will and that led to the repayment of those funds.”

“There are processes and mechanisms to retrieve the outstanding money but if they cross the line there will be certain consequences that go with it.”

It was not clear yet whether the tenant suffered physical injuries as a result.

Mr Venneri was arrested on Wednesday night and charged with detaining a person for advantage. He appeared in Central Local Court on Thursday and was granted conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on August 13.

Mr Mowad was refused bail to appear at Central Local Court on Friday on charges of detaining in company with an intent to obtain advantage and occasion actual bodily harm.

-with AAP