The rise in tent encampments is a well-known byproduct of Los Angeles’ homeless crisis. But tents aren’t the only unorthodox abodes exploding on L.A. streets. Recreational vehicles (RVs) have become a popular living alternative for the unhoused, particularly since the pandemic. In 2022, there were 6,500 people living in 4,000 RVs citywide. That represents a 40% increase since 2018.
Often, these vehicles are owned by third parties – so-called “vanlords” who rent the vehicles out for a price. They face very few regulations compared to their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
That’s likely to change, following a recent vote by the L.A. City Council. On Aug. 26, members voted 12-0 to direct the city attorney to draft a change to the municipal code.
The ordinance would prohibit people from renting and leasing RVs while parked in public spaces, including on city streets. Additionally, those who rent out RVs would be required to follow “relevant state and federal laws as it relates to the sale and lease of RVs.” Vanlords would face escalating fines if they violate the design and safety standards specified by the American National Standards Institute and the National Fire Protection Assn. The purpose is to prevent safety hazards, some of which have been deadly.
Councilmember Traci Park introduced the motion. Her district, which includes Venice and Mar Vista, has been inundated with RV encampments.
“As a city, we put a lot of regulation on our housing market. Landlords in the city of Los Angeles are required to comply with extensive obligations to provide safe and habitable housing,” Park told the Los Angeles Times. “Yet we have these unscrupulous vanlords who purchase, in many cases, dilapidated, inoperable and oftentimes unsafe RVs and vans that they are in turn using as dwelling units for vulnerable members of the community.”
Park has introduced a separate motion that would restrict RV living in residential areas.
To further protect the renters of these vans, Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez has introduced her own amendment asking the city attorney to report back on a provision requiring illegal vanlords to cover their tenants’ relocation expenses.