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Undercover: Nasty neighbors throw wild parties – where are the cops?

Steve Ginsberg lives in a residential neighborhood of Los Angeles with a lofty name: Mount Olympus. But his neighbors are anything but divine.
/ Source: TODAY

Steve Ginsberg lives in a residential neighborhood of Los Angeles with a lofty name: Mount Olympus. But his neighbors are anything but divine.

Ginsberg's neighbors recently rented their home for a loud party where the guests started arriving at 1:45 a.m., greeted by a host in a bathrobe. Producers for KNBC, NBC's Los Angeles affiliate, captured the scene from undercover as guests continued arriving deep into the early morning hours, while a DJ continued playing pounding music.

—Many guests didn't leave until after sunrise. "It's like a nightmare," Ginsberg said.

It's also often illegal. Some zoning laws in Los Angeles prohibit renting your home for less than 30 days to prevent the very situation that cost Ginsberg sleep.

KNBC investigative reporter Joel Grover put the question to Capt. Peter Zarcone of the LAPD: "Residents want to know why the police aren't stopping it."

"And the residents aren't wrong," Zarcone admitted. "If they're upset that this has been going on and it looks like, 'Gee, it's so blatant, why aren't you doing anything,' we should be doing something."

According to the LA Times, a recent study by labor-backed advocacy group Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy reports that as short-term rental websites such as Airbnb have become more popular, more than 7,000 houses and apartments in metropolitan LA have been taken off the market for use as short-term rentals.

Today it's still easy to illegally rent a party house. Rossen Reports producers went undercover in Southern California to find out. A real estate agent was happy to show them several homes to rent, including her own, for $7,500 — just feet from the neighbors.

"So how many people can fit inside here?" Rossen producer Josh Davis asked.

"Inside [and] outside, up to 200 people we've had," the agent said.

"So we can keep something out here till 1, 2 in the morning?" Davis asked.

"I want to say closer to 12 here, and then move it indoors," the real estate agent replied. She added: "The neighbors that don't rent the houses are kind of envious or jealous of us who do rent houses, so they want to kind of make it more difficult."

TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen identified himself to the agent and said: "They told you they were going to have a DJ, they were going to play loud music and the party's going to go pretty late. And you were more than happy to rent it to them ... how do you think the neighbors feels about that?"

"I'm sorry, I have no comment," the agent said.

When informed that the rental was illegal, the real estate agent said she had a special permit and pays taxes for this type of rental. She even offered to show Rossen the permit. She drove away, saying she’d come back, but later called to say she wasn’t coming. The city of Los Angeles told the Rossen team that no such permit exists.

Meanwhile, Steve Ginsberg still wants a decent night's sleep. "My message to lawmakers is, you sleep at my house for a month and I'll sleep at yours and then we'll see how you feel and what you do about it," he said.

Police departments told Rossen Reports that even when these types of rentals are illegal, there's little enforcement because police budgets have been slashed and they have emergencies to respond to. But experts say, speak up anyway if you live near a party house. Report them to the city. If your neighbor is hassled enough by fines, they'll likely move the party somewhere else.

Have an idea for Rossen Reports? Message Jeff Rossen on the Rossen Reports Facebook page.

This article was originally published Mar. 12, 2015 at 7:43 a.m. ET.