A Vancouver woman has a cautionary tale for anyone living next to an abandoned house after she battled city authorities for months to stop strangers from partying on the decaying back porch of a rundown house across her lane.

Laura De Munain moved into her family’s Oak Street house on the outskirts of the tony Shaughnessy neighbourhood in April. While working from home, the pregnant lawyer soon noticed groups of two or three people regularly stumbling around her back alley in a daze.

She went to check out the house. After walking through the rubbish-strewn carport, she climbed a rotting back staircase and found a large porch littered with aerosol cans, garbage and a camping stove. Above, a mouldy piece of drywall drooped down from the ceiling, exposing the rafters. With its back door unlocked and kitchen windows open, anyone could, and did, easily slip in.

Police answered her first call to their non-emergency line and toured the property, but they “said they didn’t see any evidence of consistent living here,” according to De Munain. She says city staff referred her back to the police when she complained about drug users and squatters in June and asked the city to force the owner to board the home up properly.

Eventually someone boarded up the patio’s back door, but over the next three months, De Munain and her husband regularly cleaned their alley of broken glass and discarded aerosol cans as she feared for the safety of their three-year-old daughter when walking to their parked car. Several more calls to the police and the city yielded little action, De Munain says.