Le­gal dis­putes plague Hum Salon

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By ASHTEN MACDON­ALD

Re­mem­ber Rosy Ar­mitage and her so­cial en­ter­prise Hum Salon?

She fea­tured in the Auck­land City Har­bour News in March 2013. The idea was to use peo­ple power to ren­o­vate an old villa and cre­ate en­ter­prises there such as a cof­fee shack, restau­rant and bar that were all about the com­mu­nity rather than fi­nan­cial gain.

But the com­mu­nity project to re­store the her­itage build­ing in Grafton is at the cen­tre of a year-long le­gal bat­tle work­ing its way through the High Court.

The oc­cu­pants are be­ing ac­cused of breach­ing their ten­ancy agree­ment, which re­quires them to carry out ren­o­va­tions on the house in ex­change for a rent hol­i­day.

The owner wants them re­moved.

How­ever the ten­ant, Hum Hos­pi­tal­ity Ltd, says it can­not com­ply with the agree­ment be­cause of a dis­pute over the repil­ing of the prop­erty that was done in 2009 be­fore the lease was signed.

In 2011 Hum Hos­pi­tal­ity took out a long-term lease on the prop­erty on the cor­ner of Grafton Bridge and Grafton Rd, and be­gan ren­o­vat­ing as part of a com­mu­nity project to re­store the villa.

An ap­pli­ca­tion for build­ing con­sent to repile and level the dwelling was sub­mit­ted by the owner, Shen Ooi, and the work was com­pleted in 2009.

How­ever Ar­mitage says the repil­ing work is ‘‘sub­stan­dard’’. She be­came con­cerned when cracks be­gan to ap­pear in the restora­tion work car­ried out by Hum.

She and other vol­un­teers planned to de­velop the cat­e­gory two her­itage site as a site for mu­sic, arts and ed­u­ca­tion but court bat­tles have halted the project.

‘‘We want to con­tinue with our de­vel­op­ment, rem­edy the repil­ing and relev­el­ling and want com­pen­sa­tion for the dam­age that has been done to our work so we can cor­rect it,’’ she says.

Hum op­er­ates a cafe on the Grafton site to gen­er­ate in­come for the restora­tion project, along with do­na­tions and spon­sor­ship.

She has turned down of­fers of set­tle­ment from Ooi, say­ing ‘‘we’re not in it for the money’’.

Ar­mitage says their sit­u­a­tion is a national is­sue be­cause her­itage build­ings all over New Zealand are be­ing left to rot.

‘‘This is a her­itage site on a ma­jor in­ter­sec­tion. This is sup­posed to be val­ued by the com­mu­nity. We’re walk­ing by and let­ting it erode.

‘‘We want the prop­erty in the hands of the com­mu­nity for the life of the house so that it’s never de­mol­ished. This is a tac­ti­cal at­tempt by the land­lord to frus­trate the progress of the project,’’ she says.

Shen Ooi could not be reached for a re­sponse.

So­cial en­ter­prise: Rosy Ar­mitage out­side the Grafton villa in Fe­bru­ary 2013. The build­ing is now at the cen­tre of a dis­pute be­tween the ten­ants and the owner.

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