City officials have been alerted to the possibility of price gouging by persons offering housing for rent in the City of Santa Rosa. Price gouging may also include eviction of existing tenants of rental properties so landlords may take advantage of fire victims whose insurance companies may pay rental rates in excess of what was previously charged for existing tenants.
Penal Code Section 396 (“Section 396”) controls price increases for rental housing when a jurisdiction is under a declaration of emergency. As written, it applies for an initial period of thirty days after declaration of an emergency by the Governor and generally prohibits charging a price that exceeds by more than ten percent the price of an item before the declaration of emergency. On October 18, 2017, the Governor issued Executive Order B-43-17, which waived the thirty day limitation and provided that Section 396’s prohibition against price gouging remained in effect until April 18, 2018. On November 28, 2018, former Governor Jerry Brown extended the protections against price gouging under Penal Code 396 through May 31, 2019. On December 30, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order further extending the same protections through December 31, 2021.