These days, it seems everyone has a finger in the gig economy. Takeaways outsource their deliveries to Just Eat drivers. Traditional bed and breakfast establishments are giving way to airBnB pop-up guesthouses. Businesses and restaurants can be here one day and gone the next – the chefs and waiting staff hired on a per gig basis.
The oldest gig in the world is, of course, prostitution, and the ladies who have practised their trade throughout history have always needed somewhere out of the public eye in which to sell their services
Having a working girl as a tenant probably won’t bother most landlords, and it’s unlikely that you’ll feel the need to trigger the ‘running a business from the premises’ clause in the tenancy agreement. Brothels, however, are a completely different matter.
As with Uber drivers, the ‘self-employed’ job description is a technicality. Prostitution is legal in the UK, but brothels are not. In fact, the United nations frowns on landlords who allow their rented properties to be used as brothels – stating that punishment ought to be meted out to anyone who, ” Knowingly lets or rents a building or other place or any part thereof for the purpose of the prostitution of others.“
While it’s unlikely that you’ll end up with UN peacekeepers dragging you to the Hague for trial, brothels can present all kinds of other problems. Neighbours upset at irregular comings and goings. Rights organisations investigating human trafficking. Turf wars.
Naturally, as a law abiding landlord anxious to avoid the censure of your fellow man, you’ll want to close down the sex den as soon as it appears in your suburban Surbiton semi. Here’s how to spot that your tenants might be running a brothel:
Demand for parking
Generally speaking, brothels are open 24 hours per day, and have several workers on the premises at any time. Clients will be arriving at all hours of the day and night – usually by car.
This will not only annoy your neighbours, but possibly also lead to council parking wardens swamping the area.
What do you expect to find in a knocking shop? Beds. Maybe a couch for the punters to sit on while they wait their turn. A kettle for a couple of cup-a-soups between clients? Pimps and procurers don’t tend to spend a lot of money on soft furnishing, or furniture beyond the functional. Normal households hire a van and shift all of their worldly goods. Brothels need beds and not much else.
Dozens of female relatives on extended vacation
If you’re letting to a single couple and find out they’re hosting 10 Romanian teenagers, your spidey sense should start tingling. Not all trafficked prostitutes come from eastern Europe, however in our experience, and that of the police, the vast majority do.
It could be the case that your tenants genuinely do have a large extended family hot-bedding in their house, but it’s very unlikely.
They vanish without a trace
Being part of a criminal network, running criminal premises, and very possibly being part of an international criminal network, brothel proprietors are understandably nervous of the law.
The slightest hint of a police raid could see them packing their bags and running out of the back door.
With little in the way of furniture, and no solid assets to tie them to your premises, there’s nothing to stop the enterprise from uprooting overnight and setting up shop somewhere else.
At least you’ll get to keep the security deposit.
Image credit: Tom Coates