How do you get rid of a brothel from your block? That’s the question facing owners in at least one residential apartment block in Sydney according to THIS STORY in the Sun-Herald.
Councils have the obvious means to beat the bonking business. Brothels require development approval and the restriction are very tight; running a business inside an apartment – one that encourages passing trade – is a probable breach too.
But knowing an apartment is being used as a brothel is one thing – proving it is entirely different. Customers are unlikely to stand up in court and testify that they went to the place for a “happy ending” rather than a remedial sports massage.
Councils usually have to hire a private investigator who has to be offered a sex act for money – and preferably have evidence of that – before the council can take the matter to court. It can take months and meanwhile bona fide residents are being harrassed by clients with one thing on their minds.
You can pass all the by-laws that you want but the good and the great on the executive committee are even less equipped to provide evidence. And don’t forget that you might be dealing with serious criminals involved in sex slavery. You might not, but who wants to take the chance?
So what can you when a “rub’n’tug” sets up in your building? The obvious answer is to occasionally turn off the power and disconnect the phones to the unit for “maintenance”. This is, of course, illegal, and owners corporations can’t agree to do anything that would contravene the law.
That said, there are building managers and executive committee members who would not be above “accidentally” nudging the odd trip switch here and there just while they were “checking”. But two wrongs rarely make a right and it puts individuals in a firing line in which few of us would feel comfortable.
So what can you do?
Firstly, I would persuade the owners corporation – the owners as a group – to pass a by-law allowing all common property areas to be videoed for security purposes. This is a standard addition to by-laws and is perfectly legal.
Then I would place signs – much more prominent that the obligatory notices that are required under Work Health & Safety laws – warning people that the building is subject to video surveillance. Then I would place a number of cameras in the lift lobbies servicing the offending apartments, making sure at least one camera covered the camera that was covering the front door of the unit.
If I was feeling particularly cute, I would put a temporary screen in the foyer of the building so potential clients could see how clearly they were being observed.
And before anyone gets their knickers in a knot about privacy, it is not against the law to film people without their knowledge – you are only breaking the law if you secretly record their conversations.
You might get into muddier waters if you broadcast the images, for instance, by putting the vision on a website. Otherwise, at least until you get caught, all’s fair in love (or sex) and war.
Common property belongs to the owners corporation and they can do what they want with it provided the appropriate by-laws are in place. Front doors of units are also common property and as long as the cameras are angled so they don’t film inside the apartment, that’s OK.
It’s not easy – if it were the building affected in the Sun-Herald story would have done it. But with a little out of the square thinking, and the occasional massaging of by-laws to make them fit, it is possible. There’s more on this HERE on the Flat Chat Forum.