The L.A. County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion authored this week by Supervisors Holly J. Mitchell and Kathryn Barger, to prevent vanlords – people who rent recreational vehicles to people experiencing homelessness – from continuing to profit off the homelessness crisis and to hold them accountable in fostering unsafe living conditions.
The motion calls for a report back in 90 days on potential county ordinances that will help significantly lessen the sale, lease, or rental of recreational vehicles that are in the public right-of-way to help reduce the number of RV encampments countywide.
“Everyone deserves safe housing free from exploitation and fear,” Mitchell said in a news release. “RVs rented by vanlords often lack proper registration and insurance and aren’t subject to housing regulations, creating unsafe and hazardous living conditions for those living in RVs and the surrounding communities. I’m proud that this motion will create the legal tools to prevent the rental of RVs and continue the county’s priority to provide stable permanent housing for our unhoused residents.”
“I appreciate the opportunity to co-author this motion that tackles vanlords preying on our homeless,” Barger said in the release. “My district is home to several very large RV encampments, including up to 90 RVs that line Forest Lawn Drive. Although I’ve been working with our city of L.A. partners to explore solutions, it has been challenging because city and county ordinances haven’t been updated so our hands are tied. I’m very hopeful that this motion will both bring justice to the predatory networks of vanlords that are taking advantage of people in need and help those housed in RVs know what their rights are.”
Over the past three years, LA County has seen a significant increase in RV encampments in unincorporated communities. To address this issue, in 2022, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Mitchell and Barger to establish a countywide RV pilot program that is now a key component of the county’s Pathway Home initiative, the release said.
Since the rollout of the RV encampment resolution pilot, the county has learned of the critical role vanlords play in perpetuating the RV encampment crisis and the underground economy that is associated with it, the release said. Vanlords target homeless people to rent to and often neglect the health, safety and community concerns associated with RV encampments that they are helping to develop through their rentals, the release said.
The result is serious public safety issues like improper waste disposal, unsanitary conditions, illegal parking, and more. There have also been reports of vanlords setting RVs on fire to evict occupants, highlighting the need for stricter regulations, the release said.
The motion requires the report back to also include a comprehensive review of existing federal, state, and county laws, codes and fine structures for violations, current restrictions on the sale or auctioning of RVs and recommendations for holding vanlords accountable for relocation expenses for unhoused individuals they are leasing RVs or oversized vessels to.