Complaints over Lismore's illegal sex workers
SEX workers are invading Lismore and plying their age-old trade illegally in the city's hotels and homes according to complaints to Lismore City Council.
A Lismore City Council spokeswoman said council had received a complaint identifying a number of properties where illegal sex work was allegedly taking place.
"Council is undertaking investigations into the matter to determine the validity of the complaint," the spokeswoman said.
"Any orders or actions will be decided upon following the completion of this investigation."
This comes on the back of the revelation in June that a sex worker rented a Lismore house on the website Airbnb to use as an illegal establishment.
In 1995 the Restricted Premises Act was amended to abolish the common law offence of keeping a brothel.
Since then sex premises have been regulated as a land use under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.
Brothels and home occupations (sex services) can only be operated in commercial/industrial zones.
A Lismore-based sex worker, who did not want to be named, said the practice had been going on for months.
The woman said word had spread among private sex workers that Lismore was an easy city to work "under the radar" in the industry.
"One hotel has had four girls working from it and on the weekend there were seven girls there," the woman said.
"The private sex workers have found that nothing gets done in Lismore; that Lismore is easy to work in so now they're all coming from everywhere."
The private sex workers are undercutting legal establishments as they only have to pay for a room in a hotel or home, the woman said.
"A legal brothel has to pass council regulations, it has to pay rent or own its own premises and has to pay rates and workers," the woman said.
"These women just pay for a room and the rest is profit.
"They do run a security risk though as they could encounter violent clients."
The woman said some local hotels were allowing the illegal practice instead of supporting the local legal sex industry.
"Some of the hotels are really good, when they find out they tell the girls to leave," the woman said.
"Some girls meet their clients away from a hotel or a house and then walk their clients to the room they are using."
The woman said the private sex workers advertise their services online and in local papers including The Northern Star.