Those ‘perfect’ tenants were working girls
The rent was always on time and there was never any trouble — but they had turned the flat into a brothel, says Victoria Whitlock
WHEN a friend married and decided to rent out her north London bachelor flat, she thought she’d really lucked out when a local letting agent found her two seemingly ideal tenants.
They claimed to be mature female students and the agent said they’d provided good references. They paid the first few months’ rent on time and caused my pal no problems.
She was delighted, until she decided to carry out a routine six-monthly inspection. Thank goodness she did. She emailed the tenants to let them know she was coming. They wouldn’t be home, they said, but they had no objections to her letting herself in. return the keys and said that if she didn’t, she’d report them both to the police. Fortunately for her, the keys were posted through the letterbox the following day and she hasn’t heard from the tenants again.
She is lucky because strictly speaking, she should have followed the correct eviction procedures by serving the tenants with a Section 8 notice.
So what should you do if you suspect your tenant is selling sex from your property? Prostitution isn’t illegal in England, so if it’s just one tenant acting alone they are not breaking the law. It’s not an offence to turn a blind eye as long as you are not directly profiting from the business, or you can serve them with an S8 eviction notice for breach of contract, assuming your lease prohibits working from the premises.
But in my friend’s case, it seemed likely that both girls were bringing clients back to the flat, which meant that they had turned it into a brothel — and it is an offence to own or manage a brothel.
In these circumstances, it’s probably best to inform the police. Also, as most tenancy agreements prohibit any illegal activities on the premises, you are within your rights to serve tenants with an S8 eviction notice for breach of contract.
However, as you don’t want to fall foul of the law, I’d say this is one of those occasions when it’s probably a good idea to seek proper legal advice.
£480 a week: a one-bedroom flat on the 20th floor at Hoola, a new dual-tower apartment scheme at Royal Docks, E16 (left in the foreground), with residents’ gym and concierge, is for rent through Copperstones (020 7258 6150).