A company accused of providing poor orchard accommodation - including stained and mouldy mattresses, no insulation and a leaky roof - has been given 14 days to stop operating the facility.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council has ordered the Rangiuru Woolshed Accommodation, which has been operating for more than a year and slept up to 16 people, to cease operating after an investigation into the facility's conditions.
The district council alleges that the Rangiuru Woolshed Accommodation failed to comply with six aspects of the building code requirements, and the company had not applied for and obtained building consent under the Building Act 2004, or resource consent under the Resource Management Act 1991.
Woolshed company co-director Michael Molan said the findings of the council have been received and actions have been taken to comply with their orders.
"The process of dismantling and removing the modifications to the Woolshed is well under way and it will be returned to a compliant state promptly with no future intended use beyond storage," he said.
He said the woolshed had ceased trading and all previous residents have already been assisted in finding alternate accommodation with their current weeks rent refunded plus their bonds if one was held.
The investigation started after a former worker at the orchard complained to the council.
The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend last Saturday revealed the poor state of the accommodation and spoke to former orchard workers who had stayed there.
One of the former employees, who only stayed for 10 days because they were concerned about the standard of living, told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend yesterday he was not surprised with the council action and was "glad" others would not be able to stay there.
Former guests previously told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend that the site had stained and mouldy mattresses, an uninsulated, leaky building, toilets that sometimes don't flush and showers that often ran cold.
One guest said he needed to wash in a bucket on several occasions.
The cost of the accommodation was $130 a week per person. There was an option for people to sleep in one of the vans provided by Molan for the same price. They could pay $110 a week if they sleep in their own vans.
Molan has previously been before the courts for his involvement in an immigration case.
Western Bay of Plenty Council's policy, planning and regulatory services group manager, Rachael Davie, said the site allegedly failed to comply with the requirements of the building code in relation to stability, protection from fire, access, moisture, services and facilities.
Davie said it was alleged the company had not applied for and obtained building consent under the Building Act 2004 and resource consent under the Resource Management Act 1991.
The council served a Notice to Fix under the Building Act 2004 and an Abatement Notice under the Resource Management Act 1991 on Thursday. An abatement notice is a warning to the recipient that they are contravening the provisions of the Resource Management Act.
"Failure to comply with the requirements of the Notice to Fix and the Abatement Notice can lead to further enforcement action," Davie said.
The company's website and Facebook page have been deactivated.
Jura Lesic, a former resident at the woolshed, said he was "not surprised" with the findings.
He said in his opinion: ''... it's really not okay to rent out a place like that and ask people for money every week for a place that doesn't have basic health standards."
Lesic, a Croatian man on a working holiday visa, stayed for 10 days before leaving because of the poor conditions, which he described as ''dirty, smelly, and full of mould and moisture''.
In his view, the accommodation provided was a "scam" and a "health hazard".
The lack of insulation and heating meant he was forced to sleep fully clothed on a mouldy mattress with three blankets and gloves, and limited hot water meant he needed to wash in a bucket of warm water on several occasions to avoid having a cold shower.
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated CEO Nikki Johnson said the "vast majority" of accommodation for workers met the organisation's expectations.
She said in her view: "It is disappointing when the industry's efforts to look after our workers is undermined by the minority."
Johnson said seasonal kiwifruit workers were "extremely important to the industry" and the organisation expected they will be well treated by their employer and well looked after while in the region.
She said in her view: "The accommodation clearly failed to meet those expectations."
Johnson said NZKGI was available to help those who stayed at the woolshed find new accommodation and if required, new employment.
Molan admitted to the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend last week that the shed had no council consent. He said it offered a rural experience and claimed the living conditions are on par with accommodation offered by other employers in the area.
He said last week that the criticism from former workers was "unfair" and the accommodation was merely an option for people who worked on the orchard.
In response to complaints about the toilet not working for four days, Molan last week said the septic tank had filled on a Friday night and someone was contacted on Monday to empty it. It was emptied on Wednesday. In the interim, a portaloo was put in place and there was a toilet in his house and on the orchard which could be used.
The showers were heated by gas and he said the man who experienced the cold shower "decided to have a shower late at night and the gas had run out".
He said the accommodation was not a backpackers, was private, "not advertised", and was only available to people who applied for a job through his recruitment agency.
Last week, Molan said, "It's going to open up a massive can of worms of where does the regulation stop and start, and that's fine by me because I have no issues going with the council."
Rangiuru Woolshed Accommodation is on a kiwifruit orchard and was only available to people who have applied for seasonal kiwifruit work in the area through recruitment agency KiwiHQ, which Molan has been the director of since 2016.
Kiwifruit workers can join the Kiwifruit Workers Alliance for advice, support and representation.