Are Landlords, Tenants, and Agents Liable for Sex Trade in HDB flats/Condominiums?

Last updated on May 8, 2017

This article was contributed by Ms Koh C-u Pinn, who is a Director at Arielle Law Corporation.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of illegal brothels inconspicuously operating out of residential apartments in the heartlands, and frequently in Housing and Development Board flats. If such a situation should arise, would a landlord, tenant and agent of such premises be liable? How can landlords, tenants and agents prevent themselves from being unwilling parties to such illegal activities happening within their premises?

How may a landlord, agent or tenant be liable?

A landlord, agent, or tenant of any premises may be liable for allowing their premises to be used as an unlicensed brothel unless he is able to prove that he has no knowledge under section 148 of the Women’s Charter.

Notably, in a case where the tenant has subletted the premises, which has been used as an illegal brothel, the law further presumes that the tenant had knowledge of the premises being used as a brothel unless he is able to prove otherwise that he had no such knowledge. The rationale for this presumption rests on the fact that the tenant is the only authorised person to access and occupy the premises after the landlord has handed over the keys to the tenant. As such, if the premises are being used for vice activities, the tenant must have known of it and/or sanctioned it, unless he is able to prove otherwise.

Under the law, a first-time offender may be fined up to S$3,000 and/or face imprisonment not exceeding 3 years. Repeat offenders may be fined up to S$10,000 and/or face imprisonment not exceeding 5 years.

Therefore, once a landlord, agent or a tenant becomes aware of illegal sex trade being conducted in the premises, he has a duty to report such vice activities to the Police.

What are some of the precautions that may be taken?

Generally, prior to renting out, a landlord and/or the agent would have requested for the identification documents, job(s) and place(s) of employment of the would-be tenant(s). By conducting such due diligence, the landlord and/or the agent would generally have discharged his/her duty of care.

As for tenants, they are advised to comply with their tenancy agreement and only permit authorized occupiers (as listed in their tenancy agreement) to reside at the premises so as to ensure that their rented premises are not being misused as an illegal brothel.

This article was contributed by Ms Koh C-u Pinn, who is a Director at Arielle Law Corporation.

 

Buying and selling a property
  1. What if the seller does not turn up for the First Appointment?
  2. Joint ownership in Singapore and unequal contributions to purchase price
  3. Caveats and Home Ownership in Singapore
  4. Types of property and home ownership in Singapore
  5. What are the duties of an estate agent in Singapore?
  6. The Conveyancing Process in Singapore
  7. Selling Property as a Tenant in Common
  8. Getting a Mortgage Redemption in Singapore
  9. Buying a Property on Trust for Your Child
  10. Transfer of Property in Singapore
  11. Buying Property in Singapore: How to Pay for Your Property
  12. Refinancing Your Home Loan
  13. Common Terms in Sale & Purchase Agreements
  14. Decoupling to Beat the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty
  15. Converting a Joint Tenancy to a Tenancy-in-Common
  16. How Can I Buy My Co-Owner’s Share of the Property?
  17. Purchasing a Property on an “As Is Where Is” Basis: What Does it Mean?
  18. The Essential Guide to Buyer’s Stamp Duties in Singapore
  19. Option to Purchase: 6 Things to Know Before Exercising It
  20. HDB Resale Process: Selling Your HDB Flat Without an Agent
  21. Property Auction: How to Buy a House in Distressed Sales and More
Renovation disputes
  1. Renovation Disputes in Singapore
  2. Your Contractor Damaged Your Neighbour's Property. Can You Be Made Liable?
Tenancy disputes
  1. What If I Have a Tenancy Dispute or Complaint in Singapore?
  2. Tenant-Landlord Rights in Singapore
  3. Dispute With Your Condo’s Management or MCST: What to Do
  4. Are Landlords, Tenants, and Agents Liable for Sex Trade in HDB flats/Condominiums?
  5. 6 Common Terms in Tenancy Agreements & What They Mean
  6. Is Airbnb Illegal in Singapore?
  7. Landlord Won’t Return Your Security Deposit: What to Do
  8. Applying for a Writ of Distress When a Singapore Tenant Owes You Rent
  9. Landlord’s Guide to Evicting a Problematic Tenant in Singapore
Neighbour disputes
  1. What can I do if a Chinese funeral or a Malay wedding creates a noisy annoyance in the void deck?
  2. How to Resolve Disputes with a Neighbour from Hell in Singapore
  3. What is the Tort of Interference with Land? What is the rule in Rylands v Fletcher?
  4. Ceiling Leaks: What Can I Do?