Anti-price gouging law triggered again by wildfires in Southern California

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Rent increases limited to 10 percent while protections in effect

With wildfires continuing to spread in Southern California, Gov. Jerry Brown has declared states of emergency in San Diego and Santa Barbara counties. The declarations on Thursday come just days after the fires prompted Brown to declare emergencies in the counties of Los Angeles and Ventura.

The governor’s declarations once again trigger the state’s anti-price gouging law. When activated, Penal Code Section 396 prohibits raising the price of many consumer goods and services, including that of rental housing, by more than 10 percent after the emergency has been declared.

The newly declared states of emergency come after wildfires prompted emergency declarations earlier this fall in Orange County and the Wine Country region. Those earlier states of emergency run until April.

The implications on price-gouging reach far beyond the wildfire-ravaged counties.

The California Attorney General’s Office has interpreted the anti-price gouging restrictions to apply …

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