(LA) Homeless Encampments in back alley behind Rental Property

24 Replies | Los Angeles County, California

Title pretty much says it all. There are a few homeless tents in the back alley behind our property, a duplex rented out to two families. 

It is well known that the city of LA has a severe homelessness problem, and the city has completely turned its back on the homeowners that this affects. 

Does anyone here have any experience with removing said tents/encampments from their vicinity? 

I just talked to the tenants today, they reported:

  • Homeless people urinating, defecating in public
  • Awful stench coming from the tents 
  • Sketchy/mentally ill people roaming around

This especially bad since this is a duplex, and both units are rented to large families with small children. They are concerned for their safety, and frankly so am I. 

Any helpful suggestions would be extremely appreciated!

Side note: I think it would be cool to have a small meetup for landlords / wannabe landlords to discuss and share tips on all the peculiarities that come with this unique territory. Thoughts?

A few things:

Please report to the city. They need this info for their stats, etc.

Document area with photos.

Develop a relationship with your council member for that neighborhood and find out what they are doing and report same to council member.

Get on Next Door and monitor it from that as well.

This could be a safety issue for your tenants as well; as a landlord you are obligated to protect and provide to them safe housing; if you need to build a fence or whatever then do it.

Get involved! Homelessness is everyone's problem; the city is actively working on solutions, people may or may not agree on how it is being handled however better to be part of the solution!

I hope this helps, best of luck.

Hi @Steve Jones, thx for the quick response. We've reported it to 311, the Mayor's office, the department of sanitation. Our case has been pending since June, with little to no action. 

We do have a secured solid wrought iron fence/gate to the alley, so the tenants are secure as long as they remember to lock the gate.

I will go ahead and try to contact our council member and see if anything sticks there.

I have never tried this and do think there is some risk ...

similar to cash for keys ... Cash to move away from your rental.

Offer to pay $100 for each tent and all occupants to move away and not come back.

If it works:

  • Time is money.  A few tents is a few hundred dollars.  You can easily spend scores of hours dealing with this issue and may not have any success.
  • It likely affects your property value more than a few hundred dollars.
  • It may result in happier and longer term tenants.

The risk is they tell all of their homeless buddies who now set up behind your rental in hopes of getting an easy $100.

It is just moving the problem elsewhere but in this case the NIMBY can affect your finances.  In addition, I feel an obligation to provide safe and nice homes to my tenants.  I do not feel I have the obligation to provide safe and nice homes to everyone.  I do not have the means to address homelessness on city wide basis.

I think I would try it on these initial few tents and if anyone else moves back to the same location in the next 6 months, I would look for a different solution.

Good luck.

boy this is tough and pervasive all over the west coast and Honolulu as well.. 

Portland we have a major problem also..  not sure what the answer is.. 

a lot of these folks would not live in a normal residence given the choice so you have that working against you as well.

Maybe allow your tenants to have a large breed dog for safety like a German shepard.. 

Originally posted by @Dan Heuschele :

I have never tried this and do think there is some risk ...

similar to cash for keys ... Cash to move away from your rental.

Offer to pay $100 for each tent and all occupants to move away and not come back.

If it works:

  • Time is money.  A few tents is a few hundred dollars.  You can easily spend scores of hours dealing with this issue and may not have any success.
  • It likely affects your property value more than a few hundred dollars.
  • It may result in happier and longer term tenants.

The risk is they tell all of their homeless buddies who now set up behind your rental in hopes of getting an easy $100.

It is just moving the problem elsewhere but in this case the NIMBY can affect your finances.  In addition, I feel an obligation to provide safe and nice homes to my tenants.  I do not feel I have the obligation to provide safe and nice homes to everyone.  I do not have the means to address homelessness on city wide basis.

I think I would try it on these initial few tents and if anyone else moves back to the same location in the next 6 months, I would look for a different solution.

Good luck.

Of course, word could get out and you'd have two dozen tents there tomorrow morning.

Originally posted by @Bryce Davis :
Originally posted by @Dan Heuschele:

I have never tried this and do think there is some risk ...

similar to cash for keys ... Cash to move away from your rental.

Offer to pay $100 for each tent and all occupants to move away and not come back.

If it works:

  • Time is money.  A few tents is a few hundred dollars.  You can easily spend scores of hours dealing with this issue and may not have any success.
  • It likely affects your property value more than a few hundred dollars.
  • It may result in happier and longer term tenants.

The risk is they tell all of their homeless buddies who now set up behind your rental in hopes of getting an easy $100.

It is just moving the problem elsewhere but in this case the NIMBY can affect your finances.  In addition, I feel an obligation to provide safe and nice homes to my tenants.  I do not feel I have the obligation to provide safe and nice homes to everyone.  I do not have the means to address homelessness on city wide basis.

I think I would try it on these initial few tents and if anyone else moves back to the same location in the next 6 months, I would look for a different solution.

Good luck.

Of course, word could get out and you'd have two dozen tents there tomorrow morning.

 we built a small 27 home community off of Palmblad and the springwater trail there was so infested with these folks as to the point people could not use it.

I went to test drive a new tesla and they were just being kicked out of their parking lot off of Mccadam..  I really don't know the answer.

as a kid I worked with them a bunch IE employed them but in those days they spent the night at the Y and would pass out door hangers for ciggee and beer and MD 20 20

Originally posted by @Dan Heuschele :

I have never tried this and do think there is some risk ...

similar to cash for keys ... Cash to move away from your rental.

Offer to pay $100 for each tent and all occupants to move away and not come back.

If it works:

  • Time is money.  A few tents is a few hundred dollars.  You can easily spend scores of hours dealing with this issue and may not have any success.
  • It likely affects your property value more than a few hundred dollars.
  • It may result in happier and longer term tenants.

The risk is they tell all of their homeless buddies who now set up behind your rental in hopes of getting an easy $100.

It is just moving the problem elsewhere but in this case the NIMBY can affect your finances.  In addition, I feel an obligation to provide safe and nice homes to my tenants.  I do not feel I have the obligation to provide safe and nice homes to everyone.  I do not have the means to address homelessness on city wide basis.

I think I would try it on these initial few tents and if anyone else moves back to the same location in the next 6 months, I would look for a different solution.

Good luck.

 Don't negotiate with terrorist. 

A loud speaker and keep playing the  "Barney " theme song . "I love you you love me......". 

With todays wireless stuff , you could put something like that high up and no one would know who was doing it . 

@James Yoo - @Steve Jones hit the nail on the head. Follow his advice and unfortunately there is no quick and easy solution. This is a pervasive issue across LA and we all need to work together to improve our city.

I live in Venice and this situation is common. I had a listing where I received an offer for $1.55M, they drove by the property at night and saw people camping out and dropped the offer price to $1.25M!

Some local areas have been having success installing planter boxes on extra wide sidewalks. Legally sidewalks must be accessible for wheelchairs (ADA) and the planters take up the extra space. If they block the sidewalk the police can ask them to relocate. However I'm not sure if this is applicable in your situation.

If they see anything illegal they should report it to the police immediately. Best of luck and let us know if you come across any good solutions. 

Hi James I am so sorry to hear the news. It's terrible situation you're in. I would 1) bombard your local councilman's office with complaints, maybe hit his/Twitter Facebook page if they have one.  2) walk in weekly to your local LAPD division with pictures and complaints. Definitely mention the children living there. 3) have fellow neighbors complain also. I ABSOLUTELY NOT pay the homeless one cent. Would would get around, and your cash flow would be a negative number. I would go as far as to pay a company to power wash the alley with them there. Also, can you install sprinklers up high to spray their area, hourly.  Anyway, best of luck to you 

Best bet?  

High power motion detector lights in the back yard.  They will not like the lights at night.  Might move on to somewhere else.

Install rainbird sprinklers on a timer to start at 5 to 6 am.  Sorry if they can not be adjusted well and hit the alley for 15 minutes on and off during that time.

Give back to your renters!  Pay for all those kids to learn a musical instrument.  Tell then you will sponsor the rent on the instrument if they join the school band for drums, electric bass and guitar, maybe a few on a trumpet and violin.  Encourage them to practice, practice, practice!

Have a monthly exterminator spray all your outside area, including your ally area.  

Fertilize your backyard.  Cow manure works well.  You do want nice grass and plants don't you?

DO NOT GIVE THEM MONEY TO MOVE!!!  You will be the hundred dollar bank for every homeless person in LA and have a waiting list of people to even get to your house!

Money to move seems like going down a slippery slope as others have pointed out. Logical, but the secondary effects are uncontrollable. Besides the traditional government authority routes, I really liked @Lee L. 's suggestion and will be keeping that in my back pocket as well.

@James Yoo - This is such a tough dilemma, these people have rights and deserve respect but so do you and your residents.  It's especially bad for houses bordering the alley.  My suggestion would be to pay a few college kids to canvas the neighborhood with a petition for the city council. 

I have this issue in my neighborhood as well, Iacienga and Beverly.  We have a Saban center and the Cedars ER a few blocks away on either side.  Finally a petition was passed around the neighborhood and delivered to the council rep.  A meeting was had and Sanitation did a major street/Alley cleaning and the cops have have started driving the Alley's more.

Don't pay them and don't do anything to antagonize them.  the sprinkler suggestion would just have the homeless people confronting your tenants. 

Who's on the other side of the alley?  Maybe split the cost of putting in a large, non discreet security camera?  This will help you make the case again the deification and urination which is illegal and could help you get the police etc to move them.

Also, use twitter - the LAPD does monitor twitter, so posting a few videos of illegal behavior could help get you action.  

I have a rental property in Long Beach that attracts this type of homeless behavior. What I suggest after 1 year of dealing with this issue is to keep calling the police. Keep calling, keep calling. 

This type of behavior triggers numerous phone calls to their Quota and after a while, they will begin to see the threats. 

Also, call your local councilman's office and complain. You have to kind of be a "thorn in the side" of the local police department to protect the environment around your rental property. At the end of the day, if the tenants move out because of this, then YOU are losing money. Hope this helps!

I rent a home in Van Nuys and saw two young homeless people doing hard drugs in the back alley. I called 911 four times in two hours..no police ever showed up. They called me three hours after i made the first phone call to ask if I still wanted them to come.

This is one reason why I prefer to invest in Florida (my home state). 

Also, there was a huge garbage pile on Sherman Way just west of Sepulveda that took almost a month to be cleaned. 

Not sure what the answer is, but this is a huge issue.

Not getting political... but the cities that have the biggest homeless problem all have one thing in common.  It's all starts with who you vote for. Unfortunately for my landlord friends in Cali, it will only get worst until something changes out there.  I was in LA last month for a conference.. I could not believe what I saw around LAX. 

“Typhoid Fever, Typhus & Tuberculosis: Are L.A.'s Medieval Diseases Coming To Your City?”

Many people consider moving out of LA - it looks like third world countries and the problem is getting worse. This article was published at Forbes, people who live in LA or visiting are frustrated.  I wonder if there is any solution to that