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How to bounce a brothel from your block
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20/04/2014 - 10:04 am
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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.

alley cat
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20/04/2014 - 12:05 pm
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Thanks Jimmy for this sage advice.

This is an issue our building has also had to deal with.Embarassed

We used many of your suggestions to make ‘doing business’ as difficult as possible. First step was by the strata manager requesting a copy of the lease agreement (as required by the Strata Act) from the managing agent. The name on the lease (male) did not match up with any of the actual residents (all female), as cross referenced to who was using the building’s security access. This meant that the person who had been allocated building security access was no longer a resident, this entitled us to turn off all building access, consistent with our by-laws. We then worked very closely with the apartments managing agent who agreed with us that the apartment had been ‘sublet’ and then took action through the then CTTT, with our full support. Eventually the agent was able to change the locks. 

This would not work in all instances, as it is reliant on the property being tenanted, and the leasee not in residence. I also can not speak highly enough of the managing agent involved here as well.

Sydney NSW
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23/04/2014 - 8:37 am
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I am familiar with this building, as I have friends living there and visit occasionally.


The discussions here seem to be about “brothels in apartments” which I gather does occur. But in this particular case they are in commercial suites separate from the residential section, and are directly accessible from the street.

So it would appear that someone in the Strata hierarchy has approved their use as massage shops, perhaps not with the direct intention of sexual services being provided. Surely this would constitute a breach of lease conditions and would enable the offenders to be dealt with by the owners or OC?

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24/04/2014 - 5:44 pm
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This worked to get a brothel out

A few years ago I managed a commercial complex located in a commercial complex mostly occupied by radiologist, ear/nose/throat specialist, tax accountants, employment agency and other such businesses one lot was rented by a brothel. The residents didn’t like having a brothel and a few other tenants vacated.

The brothel then rented another 2 lots which adjoined the existing brothel, and it was alleged they had cut connecting doors into boundary walls, installed showers etc…

The Owners Corporation didn’t like this at all. The by- laws were the standard vanilla schedule 1 of the Act, so I talked them into adopting the then current Model Commercial/Retail bylaws (2005 version)

Then the Owners Corporation set HOURS OF OPERATION  as 9 am- 5 pm Monday – Saturday Under by-law 13

13 Controls on hours of operation and use of facilities

(1) The owners corporation may, by special resolution, make any of the following determinations if it considers the determination is appropriate for the control, management, administration, use or enjoyment of the lots or the lots and common property of the strata scheme:

(a) that commercial or business activities may be conducted on a lot or common property only during certain times,

(b) that facilities situated on the common property may be used only during certain times or on certain conditions.

(2) An owner or occupier of a lot must comply with a determination referred to in clause (1).

Brothel decided to move out

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