Northern California Residents Allege Rent-Gouging After Wildfires

January 8, 2018  |  Environmental, Wildfire

A number of Northern California residents affected by October’s severe wildfires are alleging rent-gouging by landlords after the flames burned thousands of area homes to the ground.

Santa Rosa resident Kalen Wehagen told the Los Angeles Times that after her apartment survived the wine country fires, she was given a 60-day eviction notice. The property owners informed her that they intended to remodel her apartment and that she could return to it only if she agreed to pay an additional $700 per month on top of an already increased rent.

California’s price-gouging laws prohibit landlords from raising rent prices more than 10% in the wake of a declared disaster like the Wine Country wildfires, though there are several loopholes that property owners can employ to increase rents and avoid liability.

Locally, however, situations like Wehagen’s are technically against the law. Landlords cannot evict an existing tenant in order to charge the next tenant a higher rent, even if the stated purpose is for a remodel of the home or apartment unit.

The Santa Rosa City Council is expected to intervene on behalf of renters with a just-cause eviction policy later this month.

California residents affected by price-gouging can file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of the State of California.

California Fire Lawyers are pursuing legal action against PG&E, holding them accountable for their alleged role in starting the Wine Country fires. We currently represent hundreds of victims in Sonoma, Napa, Butte, Mendocino, and Tubbs Counties. If you were affected by the wildfires, you may be entitled to legal compensation. Contact us at 707-533-8128 for information.

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