Price-gouging Ban in Areas Affected by States of Emergency

In California, if the governor declares a State of Emergency in any county, there is a special protection against Price Gouging that immediately goes into effect. California Penal Code Section 396 prohibits price gouging on any necesary goods and services, and defines "price gouging" as any increase above 10%.  Tenants who face rent increases over 10% in areas where a state of emergeny has been declared, or near those areas, should seek help immediately.

Landlords price gouging their tenants is not just a civil violation, but a criminal misdemeanor under the law. Note that under this law, there is a narrow exception for price increases over 10% if the landlord proves that the increase is directly attributed to cost increases. 

All Bans on price gouging last for 30-days unless otherwise extended by the governor. 

As of July 8, 2019, the following Counties are under a state of emergency : 

  • San Bernadino (declared on July 4, 2019) 
  • Mendocino ( in effect until Dec 31, 2019)
  • Napa ( in effect until Dec 31, 2019)
  • Santa Barbara ( in effect until Dec 31st 2019)
  • Shasta ( in effect until Dec 31st 2019)
  • Sonoma (in effect until Dec 31st 2019)
  • Chico City (in effect until Dec 31st 2019)

Counties that previously had rent gouging protections in 2019: 

  • Amador (started Feb 28, 2019)
  • Glenn (started Feb 28, 2019)
  • Mendocino (started Feb 28, 2019)
  • Sonoma (started Feb 28, 2019)
  • Calaveras (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • El Dorado (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Humboldt (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Los Angeles (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Marin (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Mendocino (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Modoc (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Mono (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Monterey (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Orange (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Riverside (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • San Bernadino (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • San Diego (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • San Mateo (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Santa Barbara (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Santa Clara (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Shasta (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Tehama (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Trinity (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Ventura (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)
  • Yolo (started Jan 5, extended Feb 12)

Please review our sample letter that can be used to inform a property owner that they are not in compliance with price gouging restrictions in place due to a declared state of emergency in Calfornia. 

Please review this page, and read the "Fires FAQ" at the end of this page to understand your rights during and after wildfires. 

California Penal Code section 396 prohibits price gouging (defined as increases over 10%) for necessary goods and services after the governor declares a state of emergency. Housing – defined in the law as “any rental housing with an initial lease term of no longer than one year” is specifically enumerated as one of the services for which the price cannot be raised over 10%. The costs of hotel rooms are also covered by the law. Under the price gouging law, there is a narrow exception for price increases over 10% if the landlord proves that the increase is directly attributed to cost increases. Tenants who face rent increases over 10% in areas where the state of emergency has been declared should seek help immediately.  Resources include local legal aide offices and local district attorneys. Price gouging tenants is not just a civil violation, but a criminal misdemeanor under the law.

 

Download the following fact sheets on renters' rights after natural disasters like fires:

Tenants who face rent increases over 10% in areas where the state of emergency has been declared should seek help immediately.  Resources include local legal aide offices and local district attorneys. Price gouging tenants is not just a civil violation, but a criminal misdemeanor under the law.

 

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