LOS ANGELES -- A hotel maintenance worker investigating complaints of low water pressure found a body Tuesday on the roof of a downtown hotel where a missing Canadian tourist was last seen in January, according to Los Angeles police.

Authorities will investigate the water tanks on the roof of the Cecil Hotel, where the body of a woman in her 20s was found, around 10 a.m., Officer Sara Faden said.

Vancouver resident Elisa Lam travelled to California alone on Jan. 27 and the 21-year-old was last seen by workers at the Cecil Hotel on Jan. 31.

Hotel guests complained about low water pressure at the hotel, and an inspection of the rooftop water tanks revealed the dead body, Faden said.

Late Tuesday afternoon, officials were still struggling to remove the body from the water tank to send it to the coroner's office -- which means it's too soon to know the victim's identity with certainty, Faden said.

"It appears that the location of the water tanks is very small and configured in a very tight way so it's a little more difficult to get the body out," Faden said.

Investigators will then determine whether there was foul play or "a very, very strange accident" occurred, Faden said.

Faden said it's unclear what condition the body is in.

Despite the hotel website's photos of glamorous parts of greater Los Angeles, including Beverly Hills, the downtown area it is located in has long struggled against the creeping destitution of nearby Skid Row, where drug addiction and homelessness is rampant.

A call to the hotel seeking comment was not immediately returned.

At the time of Lam's disappearance, Los Angeles police alerted the public that her disappearance appeared suspicious and may suggest foul play.

Her final destination in California was Santa Cruz, about 560 kilometres north of Los Angeles, and officials said she tended to use public transportation. Lam had been in touch with her family daily until she disappeared.