SBS Insight: Melbourne woman gets a house
Insight – Heredity: What effect does heredity have on family relationships, how can it change lives? airs on SBS on Tuesday, May 24 at 8:30 p.m.
A cancer survivor’s life “completely changed” when the landlord gave her the house she had rented for more than two decades.
Jane Sayner, 75, thought she would have to work until she was 80 and feared she wouldn’t be able to pay her rent anywhere else when the landlord died and she had to move.
The owner had always said he would leave everything to charity, so Mrs Sayner was sure he would sell the property.
But six months before he died, aged 86, in September 2020, Melbourne billionaire pharmacist John Perrett told him he was leaving the estate to him.
Luckily, she was sitting at home in St Albans, north-west Melbourne, when she called, as she was completely shocked.
Jane Sayner (pictured) thought she would have to work until she was 80, but then the landlord gave her the house she had rented for more than two decades.
“The whole time he was my landlord, he always said all his money went to the Royal Melbourne Hospital,” she told Daily Mail Australia.
Sayner said Perrett had always been a good landlord since he started renting from him in 1998.
“He had a lot of property, and if something went wrong or needed fixing, it was done right away,” he said.
Mrs. Sayner was also a good tenant. ‘I always paid the rent on time. He was a very strict businessman. He had many stocks and properties.
‘I treated this place like it was mine. When I first came here there was no garden in the back. Since I lived here, I planted many plants and flowers, which are still here today.
‘When he saw what I had done, he brought over some big old pots his father had had that he didn’t use, that I could plant things in.’
Mr. Perrett was an old school businessman and the rent was delivered in person.
“It wasn’t until 18 months or two years before his death that I convinced him to let me put the money in a bank account.
‘Until then, when he could, he came here to collect the rent once a month.
Jane Sayner shows up at the house she rented for over 20 years and now owns.
And when he got to the point where he couldn’t do that anymore, he put every other unit except this one in the hands of the agents.
“But I only left him the money once a month until I convinced him to make a bank transfer.”
Mrs. Sayner used to sit and talk with Mr. Perrett, who was never married and an only child, when she paid the rent.
“We would talk for an hour or so because he used to be alone all the time. We talk about everything. His father, his life as a chemist in St Albans.
‘When he was getting a little old and starting to have a hard time cooking, I took him out for a roast, stuff like that.’
The living room of the house that Jane Sayner gave to her billionaire landlord
Despite his great wealth, Mr. Perrett was not one for luxury or an extravagant lifestyle.
I had an old TV. It took me four years to convince him to replace it with a new one so he could see the picture and no longer hum,” he said.
Ms Sayner, originally from the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine, had lived in the countryside for seven years in the 1990s before moving back to the city.
“I looked in many places, but this one attracted me and I was lucky to get it. The best thing that has happened to me.
There was no backyard at the house (pictured) when Mrs. Sayner moved in, but she treated the place as her own and built it for more than two decades.
Mrs. Sayner had bowel cancer surgery last December and was just told by an oncologist at a checkup that she is doing well at the moment.
He said it was a huge relief when he got out of the hospital to be able to walk back home and know it was his.
If she hadn’t owned the house, “she would still have been working, I guess,” she said.
But I wouldn’t have been living here yet, that’s all. (If he hadn’t left it in his will) it would have been sold and the proceeds would have gone to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, which is what happened to (almost) everything else.
“So who knows where I would have been or what circumstances I would have been in. (Leaving the house) was life changing, it’s been fantastic.”
Who was Melbourne billionaire John Perrett?
John Perrett was a pharmacist in the Melbourne suburb of St Albans.
He never married and had no children.
John Perrett (pictured) was a billionaire who did not live a life of luxury or extravagance.
Perrett made millions of dollars in the stock market and through his properties.
Despite his great wealth, he did not live a life of luxury and extravagance.
Perrett received a kidney transplant about 30 years ago, which prolonged his life.
He showed his gratitude for this by leaving most of his fortune, around $18.6 million, to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
He also left properties that he rented out to two long-term tenants and left money to other people, including a handyman who had worked for him.
Mr. Perrett was in a nursing home towards the end of his life after suffering a couple of falls. He also had Parkinson’s disease.
I used to call at least once a week when I got home from work. I know what it’s like for people in those places. You don’t get many visitors and it’s not a lot of fun,” said Ms. Sayner.
So one day he called me and said, “My lawyer is here, can you give me his full name, because I’m leaving his unit to you.”
‘I thought I hadn’t heard right. Probably not. For as long as she had known him, (leaving all of his money for charity) it was always what she was going to do.
Everything was going to the Royal Melbourne Hospital. In the end, it was $18.6 million that they got.
Jane Sayner was very surprised when the landlord told her that he was leaving her the house she was renting (pictured in the kitchen).
Another long-term tenant also received a unit in Mr. Perrett’s will and a few others got money, including a handyman who had worked for him.
Sayner worked for Costa’s fruit and vegetable wholesale for nearly a quarter of a century until finally retiring last year at age 74.
The company had told him that he could work for them as long as he wanted.
Although he worked in the office, he still had to be there during the early days of the company.
“John died in September (2020) and in April (2021) I turned 74 and said, ‘That’s it, I’m not going to get up at three in the morning to go to work anymore.
Jane Sayner shows up outside the house she’s rented for decades and now owns after her landlord left it to her in his will.
Due to Covid lockdown restrictions, when Mr. Perrett died, only 10 people were allowed to attend the funeral.
Mrs. Sayner was one of them.
“For the last two or three months I couldn’t even go visit him in the nursing home. I was not allowed to enter. That was the worst.
Although he had a telephone, it was very difficult to communicate with Mr. Perrett as he was losing his sight.
Ms Sayner was previously married and has stepchildren but has chosen to be single since returning to Melbourne in the late 1990s.
Now that he has a pension and a roof over his head, he said: ‘What more could you ask for?’