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What is the most you can do in a private home for bdsm education?
March 3, 2014 5:13 AM   Subscribe

BDSM filter: A friend in Northern England wants to use a private home full of kinky equipment to do stuff like rope workshops, hire for small private parties, a venue for munches, and couples hire. What's the most that is possible within the law, without requiring a license? I'm aware of groups such as bdsm and the law on fetlife but am having trouble sifting signal from noise.

The owner wants it to be a community resource, but wants to keep it well within the law. In a residential neighbourhood licensing would be very hard. The owner doesn't live there but a kink friendly tenant does. If I need a lawyer, a recommendation to a specific lawyer would be very welcome.

Thank you :)
posted by Mistress to Law & Government (5 answers total)
 
I can't speak to licenses etc but your friends might want to consider whether planning permission might be required. Anything that changes the primary use of the house from a residential dwelling to a business (assuming they will be charging for lessons etc) may require consent. In addition, having a lot of cars / visitors to-ing and fro-ing is something that will generally wake the neighbours (sometimes literally) to the presence of non-domestic activities. Having people over to dinner for example is going to be counted as pretty generically domestic in nature. Using one room as an occasional meeting room would also probably be OK as well (by OK I mean not requiring formal permission).
This might be useful as a guide to the sorts of issues your friends might encounter.
Good luck!
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 6:26 AM on March 3


This is really not something that's going to be able to be done without significant legal work.

First of all, your friend is talking about running a business. That's what it is. Independent of the nature of a business, we're talking about creating a business entity, taxation, and insurance, at the very minimum. It's possible to set up certain kinds of business without the help of a lawyer, but because we're talking about basically renting out real property--again, independent of the kink side of things--this isn't one of them. Are we even sure that it's legal to run a business on this property? It may not be. We're talking about changing the use of the building, and that's going to invoke the planning permission process.

But second, we are taking about a sex-related business. In the US anyway, and I'd imagine in the UK as well, most communities are adamantly not-okay with the operation of sex-related businesses in residential areas. You've already recognized that getting a license for this would be hard given the area, but you say you want to stay within the law? Sorry. Almost certainly can't be done.

Unless your "friend" lives on the premises, doesn't charge for his services, and limits his "clientele" to people with whom he is already personally acquainted, I don't see any way that this could be done. If all of the former are true, he could make the argument that he's just a gregarious guy who throws a lot of kinky parties. You're probably allowed to do that in a private home as long as you aren't causing a legal nuisance. But if any of those is not true, it's a business, and it's almost certainly illegal unless you do the appropriate regulatory legwork.
posted by valkyryn at 6:56 AM on March 3


This guide to home business planning permission might be of some use.
posted by emilyw at 7:18 AM on March 3


There's a group in my area that has weekly educational BDSM classes in someone's rented home. They do not charge, they accept donations for the snacks/beverages they provide. They only give out the address to people who have contacted them directly (though people bring friends and such sometimes), and they have a variety of presenters. I *think* there's a waiver they have folks sign, but I can't remember. This is in Colorado, USA.

I would reconsider the idea of charging for access. I'd imagine that even in the UK that puts it in an entirely different range of activities under the law. There are other ways to receive/document payment if that is desired, but a direct "pay in exchange for using my home/equipment" seems like it'd get hairy.
posted by HermitDog at 10:10 AM on March 3


[NB: Northern England is not in the US]
posted by jessamyn at 3:03 PM on March 3


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