Did you know that when the President of the United States or the Governor of California declares a state of emergency, landlords cannot raise the rates of their rental units by more than 10%? Last Fall, an amendment was made to CA Penal Code 396 (which prohibits price gouging in California) to specifically address price gouging following a natural disaster. This came on the heels of verified reports that showed that immediately following California’s 2017 North Bay fires, some landlords raised rents by 80% or more. The law is in effect for 30 days after a state of emergency declaration.  However, California is still in a state of emergency for Butte, Los Angeles and Ventura County because of the devastating wildfires and Governor Newsom has extended the state of emergency through November 2019 for those counties. 

The law also states vendors cannot raise prices more than 10% for consumer food items, goods or services used for emergency cleanup, emergency supplies, medical supplies, home heating oil, building materials, transportation, freight and storage services, and gasoline and other motor fuels. It is also unlawful for a landlord to evict a tenant while a state of emergency is in effect or to rent or offer to rent to another person at a rental price greater than the evicted tenant could be charged. It is not unlawful, however, to continue an eviction process that was lawfully started before the state of emergency was declared, and it does not prohibit a landlord from evicting a tenant for any lawful reason.

Although there are some minor exceptions, hotel and motel room rates can’t exceed 10% above the regular rates being advertised immediately before the declaration of emergency (we housesellers learned this regulation became part of the law partly due to some unscrupulous hotel and motel owners quadrupling prices of rooms rates in Texas after Hurricane Harvey in 2017). Mobile home space rent increases are limited to 10% as well after a state of emergency is declared. For comprehensive answers to your question about price gouging laws related to rents and other goods and services please see this FAQ link from the CA Attorney General's office.