As thousands of Santa Clarita Valley residents currently seek a safe place to stay this weekend due to the Tick Fire, the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs advises owners and operators of rental housing that they must stay in compliance of state and county laws which protect consumers from price gouging.
In most circumstances, businesses may not increase the price of goods and services more than 10 percent for consumers affected by an emergency. This prohibition also applies to rental housing, hotel and motel rooms, and short-term rentals.
This price gouging protection is currently in effect across all of Los Angeles County, not just the areas affected by the Tick Fire or the recent Saddleridge Fire near Sylmar and Porter Ranch.
DCBA advises rental housing operators to maintain detailed records of your pricing before, during, and after the declared emergency. Failure to comply with the California Price Gouging Law (Penal Code 396) can result in fines up to $10,000 or one year in jail, or both.
DCBA staff is monitoring listed prices of rental housing in surrounding communities and working with local prosecuting agencies to further investigate reports of alleged price gouging. If you believe you are being improperly overcharged for goods, services, or housing, save your records and receipts, and contact DCBA at 800- 593-8222.
Price gouging protections will remain in effect for 30 days after a declared emergency and can be renewed. Price-gouging protections extend for 180 days for any contractor-related services.
California Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn both issued emergency declarations for and in the county of Los Angeles Friday in response to the Tick Fire.
The county Board of Supervisors also declared a local emergency due to the Saddleridge Fire earlier this month.
For updates on LA County’s response to the Tick Fire, visit lacounty.gov/emergency.
For more information about price gouging and other common consumer issues after a disaster, visit dcba.lacounty.gov/disasterready.