LAPD North Hollywood Division Update: Empty Buildings

LAPD Update from North Hollywood Senior Lead Officer Catalano

Officer John Catalano Vacant BuildingsThere are numerous vacant buildings in the NoHo Arts Area as a result of the recent recession and the crash of the real estate market. This includes residential and commercial properties. As a department, we are constantly addressing complaints of trespassing, loitering and vandalism of such properties. We now see more scams involving fraudulent leases where someone who does not have any legal right to a property will lease it to an unsuspecting party who just paid stranger thousands of dollars for what they believed was a legitimate rental. It is usually only a short time after taking possession do they find out they are now a victim of a financial scam with little to no recourse in locating the suspect who defrauded them.

Suspects have located vacant properties, immediately changed the locks and submitted ads on web sites such as Craigslist to find a quick renter. The properties are usually rented for under market value and the entire transaction is all done in cash for the first and lasts month security deposit. A lease is usually provided and renters never know it’s fraudulent until the actual owner shows up at the property. This is usually when the police are called and we are to determine the best and legal solution for this incident.

A little different scenario just occurred in the middle of arts area concerning three large adjacent properties with ample parking and large office space. A creative individual took over the vacant properties that are now bank owned as a result of the recent foreclosures. He sub-leased the first property to a truck company that paid him just under a thousand dollars a month to store their trucks. The middle property was leased to a person who stored vehicles for a slightly less amount and the third property was used as a daily rental for people going to the many area attractions.

The creative individual is no longer renting spaces at the property. He has now moved to a new location and we are working with the property owners to better secure the property pending the approval of permits to demolish the building for more residential units.

I’m just glad he was not providing valet parking.

John Catalano
Senior Lead Officer
LAPD – North Hollywood Division

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