CAA Wildfire Resource Center
The recent wildfires in both northern and southern California have affected the rental housing industry throughout the state.
CAA created this Wildfire Resource Center to help rental housing providers stay connected to the key information and resources they need in the wake of the wildfires.
NEED TO KNOW INFORMATION
How Rent Charges Are Affected by the Wildfires
California law prohibits rental housing providers from charging rent for any period of time that a unit is uninhabitable.
A unit may be considered uninhabitable as a result of fire damage, lack of heat or hot water due to disconnection of utilities, or any other condition which causes the unit to be unsafe for human habitation.
For rent collected prior to the wildfires, CAA recommends refunding rent on a pro-rated basis for any days that units were uninhabitable.
Anti-Price Gouging Laws
Even if your rental units were not damaged, your rents may still be affected by the wildfires. Because the Governor declared a state of emergency, California’s anti-price gouging law was triggered. The anti-price gouging law prohibits providers of certain goods and services – including rental housing – from increasing prices by more than 10 percent over pre-emergency levels, unless an exception applies.
The law isn’t limited to the cities or counties that suffered the fires, it aims to prevent price gouging anywhere in the state with an increased consumer demand resulting from the declared emergency. Violation of the law is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. Make sure you are familiar with the law’s requirements by reviewing CAA’s Industry Insight: Anti-Price Gouging Laws which answers many frequently asked questions.
In the wake of the wildfires, several local governments have also enacted their own anti-price gouging ordinances that include additional requirements and/or penalties, which stay in effect until the state of emergency is over.
Lake County: On October 17, 2017 the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance that:
- Applies to all housing units in unincorporated Lake County, effective immediately.
- Prohibits evicting a tenant from a unit to charge a rent above the rent charged for that unit during the thirty (30) days prior to October 9, 2017, unless the increase is directly attributable to additional costs for labor or materials used to provide the unit.
- Increases the penalty for violation to $20,000.
Santa Rosa: On October 24, 2017 the City Council adopted an ordinance that:
- Applies to all housing units in the City of Santa Rosa, effective immediately.
- Prohibits charging rent for a unit that is more than 10 percent above the rent charged for that unit during the thirty (30) days prior to October 9, 2017.
- Prohibits any increase in rent above the rent charged for that unit during the thirty (30) days prior to October 9, 2017 if the prior tenant was evicted, regardless of the reason for the eviction.
- Allows for a higher increase than otherwise allowed only if the additional amount is directly attributable to additional costs for labor or materials used to provide the unit.
Mendocino County: On October 31, 2017 the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance that:
- Applies to all housing units in unincorporated Mendocino County, effective immediately.
- Prohibits charging rent for a unit that is more than 10 percent above the rent charged for that unit during the thirty (30) days prior to October 9, 2017, unless the increase is directly attributable to additional costs for labor or materials used to provide the unit.
- Increases the penalty for violation to $20,000.
City of Sonoma: On November 20, 2017 the City Council adopted an resolution that:
- Directs the City’s code enforcement program to identify and document potential instances of rental housing price gouging, and
- Calls for any credible complaints to be referred to the Office of the Sonoma County District Attorney for their investigation and enforcement.
RENTING YOUR PROPERTY FOR THE FIRST TIME?
Get started on the right footing…
Thank You for Helping
In the wake of the recent fires, some property owners are stepping up to help displaced residents by renting out their properties for the first time. If you are becoming a first-time landlord to help alleviate the housing shortage created by the fires, your efforts are appreciated.
We’re Here to Help
CAA knows that the learning curve for a first-time landlord is steep. That’s where we come in. CAA offers a number of tools to help navigate the sometimes-confusing business of being a rental housing provider.
Forms: CAA members have access to a complete library of over 130 California-specific forms that are recognized and recommended by the California State Bar and many regional courts.Forms >>
Education: CAA offers a catalog of in-person and online classes, taught by top industry professionals. Educating yourself is key for you to make sure you are complying with the law and operating your business effectively and efficiently. You don’t have to be a member to take our classes, but members receive substantial discounts on all of CAA’s classes.Education >>
Tenant Screening: Every owner and manager offering residential property for rent should screen all applicants prior to renting the property. CAA members qualify for discounted resident screening from our authorized providers.Tenant Screening >>
Helpline: The Helpline service provides Premium+ members access to CAA’s advisers who answer landlord-tenant-related questions in a timely fashion, usually within one business day.Helpline >>
Insurance: CAA Value Insurance is a full service, all lines insurance brokerage agency, focused on property and casualty business with dedicated and experienced licensed brokers. We’ve used our considerable buying power to negotiate better pricing, mandate better service, and get state-of-art coverage. That means you get better coverage at a competitive price.Insurance >>
Looking for More Information?
Find out more, including resources for businesses affected by the wildfires and information about how to support recovery efforts, by visiting the following pages:
- FEMA & California Office of Emergency Management: Statewide wildfire recovery resources
- Santa Rosa fires: Emergency information homepage
- Sonoma County fires: Update on multiple fires
- Napa County fires: Fire updates
- Orange County fires: Recovery Resources
- Sonoma County Economic Development: Fire recovery business resources
- CalChamber: Things Employers Should Know About Emergencies and the Workplace
- U.S. Small Business Administration: Disaster loans