Brimbank council has shut down an illegal brothel operating less than 800 metres from two Albion primary schools.
Lena Massage opened on Perth Avenue last November under the guise of a massage parlour, offering “relaxation massage” seven days a week, between 10am and 8pm.
A sign pinned to the wall did not specify what treatments were available but an A4 piece of paper read: “$1/2 hour = $45, 45 minutes = $65, 1 hour = $80”.
Neighbouring traders began to suspect staff were offering services that would require a sex work service provider’s licence.
One business owner in the small strip of shops, who did not want to be named, said she went in requesting a back massage and was turned away.
“Only men would come out,” she said. “They turned on loud doof-doof music, not relaxing music, and people were in and out in 15 minutes.”
On Monday, Brimbank council issued the landlord a planning infringement notice for breaching the Brimbank planning scheme by using the premises as a brothel.
The council’s acting city development director Leanne Deans said a tip-off from Victoria Police led the council to investigate the business.
“It is understood the owner is in the process of evicting the tenant,” Ms Deans said.
The landlord, who asked to remain anonymous, said he had given the business until the end of April to pack up and leave.
“I had a contract with them that said they would operate as a massage parlour, not a brothel,” the landlord told Star Weekly. “This has nothing to do with me.”
Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Reinke said police had received a number of complaints about the business since last December, less than a month after it opened.
He urged people to report suspected unlicensed brothels to the Victoria Police Sex Industry Co-ordination Unit on 9628 7191 or to Crime Stoppers.
When Star Weekly visited last week, a Lena Massage staff member said the business owner planned to reopen “very far away from here”.