Kaitāia’s Hike and Bike hostel has closed, with the owner applying to have it as a residential building only following major issues with getting the hostel’s fire alarm signed off.
Far North District Council ordered Hike and Bike owner David Fisher to close the hostel in early June after it issued a dangerous building notice following Fisher repeatedly turning off its fire alarms.
Initially, Fisher said despite issues with getting the fire alarm system and building approved - and admitting turning the system off - he wouldn’t close. Fisher said that would leave 10-12 tenants out on the street.
The council issued the notice at the start of June, with Kevin Johnson, group manager of delivery and operations, saying it was due to the building owner turning off the fire alarm. As a result, Johnson said, no independent qualified person (IQP) will inspect the building and issue a building warrant of fitness (BWOF).
“Without fire safety compliance, the building is deemed to be dangerous. A notice confirming this has been fixed to the building entrance.
“If people continue to use the building for accommodation while it is classed as dangerous, the council will infringe the building owner.”
However, in light of Fisher’s refusal to close, the council took follow-up action in mid-June.
Johnson said the council issued the owner with a dangerous building notice and has issued an infringement notice of $1500 under Section 116B1) a) of the Building Act 2004.
“We are aware that a dangerous building notice was removed from the building and the owner was infringed $500,” he said.
Johnson said a council compliance officer checked the building at 4.30pm last Tuesday to see if the tenants have been removed by the owner.
“Tenants were found to be in the building and the building owner was reminded of his obligations.”
However, the situation has taken a different turn, with Fisher now working with the council to ensure that the Commerce St building meets requirements under the Building Act 2004.
“A council building inspector visited on July 20 and was advised by the owner that there are no tenants at the property,” Johnson said.
"The owner has submitted a Change of Use application, to change the building’s use from commercial to residential. The change of use to residential means the building no longer needs to conform to stricter safety rules required by a commercial building. The council is now working through this application."
What has happened to the people who had been staying in the hostel is unclear, at this stage.