Establishing a Brothel
What is involved in establishing a brothel?
To establish a brothel and operate it lawfully requires a person to obtain a brothel licence as well as obtaining local authority planning approval for the brothel. Once these two requirements are met, the brothel may be operated in accordance with State and local laws which apply to the brothel, any conditions that attach to the brothel licence and any code of practice for licensed brothels which may be in operation.
Who must apply for a brothel licence?
Any person who operates a brothel and who will be receiving direct income from a brothel must be licensed under the Prostitution Act 1999. A sole operator who carries on the business of providing prostitution does not require a brothel licence. If you propose to operate a brothel in partnership with, or otherwise in association with, any other person, each person must be individually licensed and pay the prescribed fees.
In this instance applications from partners must be submitted and received by the PLA at the same time. This means that each applicant must complete an application form and pay an application fee. However, only one brothel licence fee is to be paid - refer to schedule of fees ( 11 KB).
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There are penalties including fines and/or imprisonment for operating a brothel with an unlicensed partner/person. A person is considered to operate a brothel in association with another person if the person directly receives income from the brothel.
Who must apply for a manager’s certificate?
A licensed brothel business must be personally supervised by the licensee or an approved manager at all times that it is open for business. If you wish to work as a brothel manager, you must apply to the PLA for a manager’s certificate.
Where can I establish a brothel?
Like any other business, the decision as to where a brothel may be located is largely a matter for local authorities, subject to the Sustainable Planning Act 2009. A development approval will not be granted by the local authority if the proposed brothel -
- is in or within 200 metres of the closest point on any boundary of a primarily residential area or an area approved for residential development or intended to be residential in character; or
- is within 200 metres of the closest point on any boundary of land on which there is a residential building, place of worship, hospital, school, kindergarten or any other facility or place regularly frequented by children for recreational or cultural activities;
- measured according to the shortest route a person may reasonably or lawfully take, by vehicle or on foot, between the application land and the other land; or
- the application land is within 100m of the closest point on any boundary of land on which there is a residential building, place of worship, hospital, school, kindergarten, or any other facility or place regularly frequented by children for recreational or cultural activities, measured in a straight line; or
- has more than five rooms, which are to be used for providing prostitution.
Also, it is possible for the local authority of a town with less than 25,000 residents to automatically refuse development applications for brothels, if the local authority has sought and received approval from the Minister to be an exempt town under the Sustainable Planning Act.
How many working rooms are allowed?
Brothels are only permitted to operate with a maximum of five rooms and no more. If you have development approval to operate a five room brothel, and you hold a brothel licence for 5 rooms, you must not have more than eight sex workers at the brothel at the one time. The total number of staff at a brothel must not exceed thirteen at any one time.
Do I need to have premises before I apply for a brothel licence?
If you have premises in mind but you have not received development approval, you may still proceed with your brothel licence application. You should, however, provide full details of the proposed premises and advise the PLA of any changes to your intended premises within ten days of becoming aware of the changes.