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The Human Trafficking Outreach Prevention and Education Initiative, H.O.P. E Initiative, is a project supported by the Attorney General’s Office of Trafficking and Abuse Prevention and Prosecution (TAPP). It focuses on mobilizing landlords and communities to identify and ultimately shutter illicit massage businesses (IMBs) to combat potential human trafficking.
The HOPE Initiative aims to reduce instances of human trafficking, prevent potential human trafficking victims from being recruited, and shut down illicit massage businesses by shuttering illegal businesses and disrupting profit. This effort attempts to make it increasingly difficult for organized crime to operate this type of business in Kentucky.
What is an Illicit Massage Business (IMB)?
IMBs may appear to be licensed spa services and conceal that their primary business is sex and labor trafficking.
Red Flags for Illicit Massage Business/Spa Include:
The permit or license held by the business is for an activity different from the actual business.
They have a mostly male clientele.
Business prices are below-market to incentivize larger tips to employees.
The location may have a guarded entrance.
Businesses may have cameras inside and outside and positioned to see entrants rather than for security purposes.
The business operates at unusual hours (late at night) compared to nearby businesses.
The business storefront is curtained or blocked by dark-tinted windows to obstruct the view inside.
The location is kept locked and is opened only when customers are at the door.
Employees may be transported to work as a group or may live at the location.
What do I do if I receive a landlord engagement letter?
Please refer to Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) Ch. 383, the landlord and tenant chapter, to review your rights as a landlord to evict a tenant. You can also refer to KRS Ch. 233 for laws related to the abatement of houses of prostitution.
To evict a tenant in Kentucky, the landlord must first have a legal cause (a good reason recognized by law). Whether explicitly stated in the rental agreement or not, tenants have a responsibility not to engage in illegal behavior in rental property.
14-Day Notice to Remedy: When a tenant violates the lease or rental agreement, the landlord can give the tenant a 14-day notice of remedy. The landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant on the fifteenth day. (KRS 383.660(1)).
Failure to evict or terminate the lease with a tenant operating or assisting in the operation of illegal activity on the premises may result in legal action against a landlord. (See KRS 233.020 and 233.030).
A landlord should take all appropriate actions to ensure that illegal activity is not occurring on your property.
If you are a landlord who has reviewed this letter and has questions, call the Office of Trafficking and Abuse Prevention and Prosecution at 833-991-4673 (HOPE) for further information.
What does the law say?
KRS 233.020 states that a house of prostitution is a nuisance to be enjoined or abated. In other words, legal steps can be taken to stop the activities taking place and close the business.
KRS 233.030 allows the Commonwealth’s or County Attorney or any citizen to seek to enjoin a house of prostitution.
KRS 529.070 states that a person is guilty of a Class B Misdemeanor by “permitting prostitution when, having possession or control of premises which he knows or has reasonable cause to know are being used for prostitution purposes, he fails to make reasonable and timely effort to halt or abate such use.”
What if I cannot get the tenant to leave?
Kentucky landlords must file a Complaint for Eviction in the district court of the county in which the rental property is located.
What can I do if I suspect human trafficking?
Every Kentuckian can help end human trafficking in the Commonwealth by reporting suspected human trafficking. Pay attention to the people in your community and report behaviors that might indicate the occurrence of human trafficking.
Actionable steps to report human trafficking:
If you see signs of human trafficking but it is not an emergency, please call:
National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888.
What if children are involved in suspected human trafficking?
KRS 620.030 states that all Kentuckians with reasonable cause or suspicion are mandatory reporters of child abuse, sexual abuse, and children involved in trafficking.
Call the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Child Protection Branch Statewide Child Abuse Hotline: 877-597-2331 (877-KYSAFE1) or 800-752-6200
Post-Eviction Resources for Human Trafficking Victims/Survivors
If additional help is needed, our office may assist in connecting displaced victims to local resources and services. In the event resources are unavailable locally, we can provide statewide and/or national referrals to resources. Please contact the office via email at YourEyesSaveLives@ky.gov.
Call 911 in an emergency
National Human Trafficking Hotline:1-888-373-7888.
Child Abuse Hotline: 877-597-2331 (877-KYSAFE1) or 800-752-6200
National Human Trafficking Hotline
In an emergency, call 911
To learn more about Attorney General Cameron’s efforts to end human trafficking in the Commonwealth or to schedule a human trafficking community training event, contact Heather Wagers, Executive Director of the Attorney General’s Office of Trafficking and Abuse Prevention and Prosecution (TAPP).
Phone: (502) 696-5436YourEyesSaveLives@ky.gov
This project was supported, in whole or in part, by grant number 2020-CK-WX-0026 awarded to the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.