SINGAPORE: A Singaporean landlady who allowed her apartments to be used by prostitutes to ply their trade was sentenced to 14 weeks’ jail and fined S$8,000 on Wednesday (May 16).
Beh Dien Dien, 45, had previously received and acknowledged eight warnings from the police, informing her that numerous women had been arrested for prostitution and massage activities at the various units she rented out at People’s Park Complex.
Still, she "turned a blind eye" to the warnings and continued to rent rooms out to tenants without checking their background or occupation, according to court documents.
On one occasion, Beh moved one of the women to a room in a different unit, after the woman was arrested at her apartment for prostitution, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai.
Beh also only allowed her to do so if the woman, Xiang Anmei, finds a man to sign a tenancy agreement with Beh. This was so that if the police were to raid the unit, Beh would be able to distance herself from Xiang by saying she had rented the room out to the man.
Beh was found guilty last month of one charge of renting out her property with the knowledge that it would be used as a brothel, and two charges for knowingly living in part on the earnings of prostitution from two women, Xiang, and Li Hong Juan. Both women are China nationals.
According to court documents, although Beh did not stay in the building, she had a total of 27 rooms for rent in various units. She would get tenants from advertisements and recommendations by fellow landlords and tenants.
She received a total of S$8,600 in rent from Xiang and Li.
A NEGLIGENT AND CARELESS LANDLORD?
During the trial, Beh claimed she did not know that the apartment was being used as a brothel, with defence lawyer Patrick Tan presenting her as a “negligent and careless landlord” at most. But the prosecutor stressed that this portrayal of her "illustrates her readiness to shift legal and moral culpability away from herself".
He added that Xiang and Li had both testified during the trial, and both said that Beh knew they were prostituting themselves in the apartment.
On one occasion, the air-conditioner in Li’s room had broken down, and Li called Beh to tell her about it. When Beh wanted to come up to the room and repair it, Li had said that she had a customer and would be busy.
According to Li’s testimony, Beh then asked Li if she could wait for 10 minutes. This meant, according to Li, that she should wait for 10 minutes before bringing the customer up to the room, so that Beh could avoid meeting the customer.
“A reasonable landlord would have been concerned about their tenants receiving customers at the unit, but this was not the case for (Beh),” said the prosecutor.
Court documents also showed that Beh had charged Xiang and Li S$2,200 a month and S$3,000 a month respectively in rental fees. However, another tenant of the accused, who was not involved in prostitution or massage activities, paid just S$500 a month for a room without an en-suite bathroom.
“This clearly showed the disparity in rent between a prostitute and a non-prostitute,” said the prosecutor.
He also pointed out that Beh’s husband, Chan Kok Poon, who co-owned the apartment, had been convicted and sentenced in March on a similar charge.
Beh indicated that she would appeal against the conviction and sentence.