At any given time over the past few years, California has been under some sort of governor-declared emergency — often several declarations at once — that have triggered the state’s anti-price-gouging law and its limits on rent increases.
As of now, no such emergency, from the governor’s office, remains in effect. The last of these declarations — for fires in Madera, Modoc and Siskiyou counties — ended Wednesday.
Also this week, Gov. Newsom announced that California’s COVID-19 state of emergency would lapse Feb. 28. In and of itself, however, this declaration only set extended limits on rent increases for the first year of the emergency.
The current lack of emergencies and price-gouging limitations from the governor’s office marks a stark contrast from this summer, which brought multiple emergency proclamations for everything from a heat wave to fires to tropical storms.
All these emergency declarations triggered Penal Code Section 396 for 30 days after the proclamation was made, making it illegal to increase the price of many consumer goods and services, including that of rental housing, by more than 10% above pre-emergency levels. Under the Penal Code, the anti-price-gouging protections apply to existing tenants and to rent increases at unit turnover.
This week’s developments, though, are not a green light to increase rents by more than 10%. Cities and counties frequently declare their own emergencies, which also trigger protections against price gouging under the Penal Code. Check with your city or county to determine whether any such emergency is in effect.
Other factors, such as local rent control ordinances and the statewide rent cap under AB 1482 — formally the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 — also limit rent increases on affected housing. Learn more about the many laws and regulations affecting rent increases by reviewing the CAA Reference Guide: Laws Affecting the Ability to Raise the Rent and by taking the association’s Increasing Rent Webinar. Get a 50% discount on the webinar by using the promo code IncreaseRent.