State’s COVID-19 rent-gouging ban lapses, but other protections may apply

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Gov. Newsom on Thursday allowed statewide protections against rent-gouging triggered by the COVID-19 state of emergency to lapse, however, other protections against raising rents by more than 10% – triggered by other emergency declarations – remain in effect.

The rent-gouging protections that expired stem from Newsom’s COVID-19 emergency declaration issued one year ago today.

Newsom allowed price-gouging protections triggered by the COVID-19 state of emergency to expire for all consumer goods except emergency and medical supplies, which will continue to be covered until Sept. 4, 2021.

The protections come from Penal Code Section 396, which is activated during states of emergency. The statute makes it illegal to increase the price of many consumer goods and services, including rental housing, by more than 10% above pre-emergency levels.

Price-gouging protections triggered by local emergency declarations related to the pandemic remain in effect, as do protections triggered by fires in several counties throughout the state. In January, Newsom extended protections for all of 2021 in counties including Los Angeles, Butte, Mendicino, Napa, Ventura and Sonoma.

Anyone convicted of violating the state anti-price-gouging law can face a year in county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, as well as civil penalties.

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