Tenants Affected by the California State of Emergency & Info on the Price-gouging Ban

What are the rights of tenants during California States of Emergency? 

  • Please review this Tenants Affected by Fires FAQ sheet on what your rights are as a tenant impacted by fires in California (note this resources was created due to States of Emergency from fires but the price-gouging rights apply to ALL KINDS of CA States of Emergency). 
  • If you have received a rent increase above 10% after a State of Emergency Declaration please read on to learn more about your rights

What is the State of Emergency and the Price Gouging Ban? 

Read the Ca State Gov FAQ on price gouging here.

On March 4th 2020 Governor Newsom declared a statewide emergency due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. During a State of Emergency, California Law generally prohibits charging a price that exceeds by more than 10% the price of an item before a state or local declaration of emergency. California Penal Code Section 396 prohibits price gouging on any necessary 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 emergency has been declared or near those areas should seek immediate help. 

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.  

The price gouging ban is not limited to the counties where the state of emergency is declared. According to the California Attorney General, “The statute does not restrict its protection to a city or county where the emergency or disaster is located. It is intended to prevent price gouging anywhere in the state where there is increased consumer demand as a result of the declared emergency." The state of emergency has impacted the demand for housing in our area.


How Long Does a Ban on Price Gouging Last? 

All Bans on price gouging last for 30-days after the declaration of the state of emergency unless otherwise extended by the governor. The California Governor's Office regularly updates this list of Counties that are in a state of Emergency. 


What Counties in CA are in a State of Emergency? 

As of March 4th 2020 all counties in California are in a State of Emergency.  Some Counties were in a State of Emergency prior to this declaration. To see the most recently updated list of Counties in a State of Emergency visit the Office of Emergency Services at this link. 


What can tenants do if a landlord increases their rent above 10% during a State of Emergency? 

  1.  File a claim with the Attorney General of California's office. To learn more and file a claim, call here (800) 952-5225 or file online here
  2. Use one of the Tenants Together Sample Letters to inform the landlord of the prohibition on price gouging : 



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