Navigating Price Gouging Laws in California: A Guide For Real Estate

Posted by Communications on Mar 12, 2024 10:00:00 AM

Price Gouging Laws in California
In the wake of emergencies, the real estate industry in California faces unique challenges. Understanding the state's anti-price gouging laws is crucial whether you're a sales agent, broker, or property manager. These laws not only protect consumers during crises but also guide professionals in maintaining ethical standards.

Here's what you need to know: 

The Essence of Price Gouging in Real Estate
Price gouging occurs when prices for housing, rentals, or other essential services are significantly increased to exploit an emergency. For real estate professionals, this typically relates to the pricing of rentals, homes for sale, and emergency lodging. The goal is to prevent undue strain on those affected by disasters, ensuring access to housing remains fair and equitable.

California’s Stance on Price Gouging
California law, specifically Penal Code Section 396, restricts increasing the price of housing and other essential services by more than 10% following an emergency declaration. This applies to sales, rentals, and services across the board, ensuring that real estate professionals are aligned with legal and ethical pricing standards during critical times.

Timing and Application of the Law
These protections activate immediately upon an emergency declaration by federal, state, or local authorities and are initially set for 30 days. For real estate-related services, like reconstruction and cleanup, the period extends to 180 days. Importantly, officials can extend these timeframes to meet ongoing needs, affecting how properties are marketed and managed.

Staying Informed on Declarations
Real estate professionals should closely monitor emergency declarations to comply with legal requirements. This includes staying updated through the Governor's website and local government channels. Awareness of state and local declarations is key to ensuring your practices align with current regulations. The following locations are under price gouging protections.

Who and What Is Covered?
The statute broadly applies to all entities within the real estate sector, including individuals and companies involved in selling, renting, or managing properties. It covers a wide range of necessities, notably including rental housing, hotels, and motels, ensuring that the industry's response to emergencies is comprehensive and compliant.

Addressing Cost Increases and Violations
If your costs increase due to supplier price hikes, the law allows the cost to be factored into pricing, provided it can be justified. However, compliance with the statute is closely monitored, and violations can lead to severe penalties, including fines and criminal charges. Ensuring transparency and fairness in pricing is crucial to avoid legal repercussions.

Role of Real Estate Professionals in Compliance
As gatekeepers of housing and essential services, real estate professionals have a pivotal role in upholding these laws. This involves adhering to pricing regulations and advising clients and the community on their rights and protections. Your guidance can help navigate the complexities of emergencies, ensuring access to housing remains fair and stable.

For real estate professionals in California, understanding and complying with anti-price gouging laws is essential. These regulations ensure that during emergencies, the industry acts with integrity, maintaining fair pricing and access to housing. By staying informed and adhering to these laws, you play a vital role in supporting communities during their most vulnerable times, reinforcing the ethical standards that define the real estate profession.

This link provides useful guidance for identifying if a state of emergency affecting price gouging in rental housing is in effect. Simply locate your rental property's county on the list and note the code (a letter in parentheses) next to it. Then, refer to the explanations at the bottom of the page to understand which price gouging laws apply to your situation


Important Disclosure
Please note that the information provided in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Real estate laws and regulations can be complex and subject to change. While we strive to present accurate and up-to-date information, we cannot guarantee the completeness, reliability, or applicability of the content to your specific situation.

As a real estate professional, it's essential to understand your actions' legal implications, especially in emergencies and price-gouging laws. Therefore, we strongly recommend consulting with a qualified attorney or legal expert to obtain advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Doing so will ensure you navigate these challenges with the utmost compliance and integrity, safeguarding your professional practice and the communities you serve.


Topics: Brokers/Managers, Government Affairs, Property Management

PSAR Members Made Their Voices Heard

Posted by Communications on May 20, 2022 3:36:05 PM


Members of the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® (PSAR) made a powerful statement for property rights on behalf of housing providers while attending a recent Chula Vista City Council meeting where the subject of a new rent control ordinance was on the docket.

The City Council was considering an aggressive and overreaching ordinance that imposes additional regulations on housing providers. The controversial proposal, if passed, would negatively impact new housing creation by tightening restrictions on remodeling, owner move-ins and rental unit withdrawals, as well as expanding noticing and relocation assistance requirements.

Following over five hours of public comments, including testimony from many PSAR members, the City Council tabled a vote on the proposed ordinance, titled the “Residential Landlord and Tenant Provisions.” The Council stated that more data on the topic and potential language revisions are needed.

The actions taken by PSAR members were considered invaluable in the successful effort to prevent the Council from implementing an ordinance that would exacerbate the housing crisis. A revised version of the ordinance is expected to be considered by the City Council at a July 12 session.

Among the PSAR members who spoke at the May 17 city council meeting: Pat Russiano, Mike Campbell, Mark Scott, Nikki Coppa, Rich D'Ascoli, Yvonne Cromer, Robert Cromer, Mitch Thompson, George Ching, Eric Sutton, Peter Carlseen, Sam Calvano, Lupe Soto, Earl Jentz, Myllissa McCann and Josh Morales.

Richard D’Ascoli, PSAR CEO, stated in his testimony, “Most housing providers and owners are good people and most renters are good people. This extreme ordinance will punish every homeowner who may want to rent out a home and every renter who can’t find a place to rent.”

D’Ascoli cited a city staff report that included information from the Legal Aid Society of San Diego. According to the data, “no-fault” eviction disputes involve fewer than .27 percent of the 33,000 rental homes in Chula Vista annually, pointing to a much smaller issue.

The number of evictions totaled 13 in March, three in February, and seven in January. “Shouldn’t we help those 13 households rather than impact 33,000 rental units?” D’Ascoli asked. “Most housing providers are good actors, it’s the few we need to address. Let’s focus on them and not punish the entire city.”

D’Ascoli identified the long-term ramifications of the proposed ordinance: “Rent control and similar market restrictions will discourage the creation, maintenance, and upgrade of rental housing stock. This ordinance will discourage additional rehab and negatively impact the low-income renters the provisions were intended to serve. This ordinance also will reduce the value of properties in Chula Vista, compared to similar properties in other cities. Prudent property owners will choose to buy or build in areas with less cost and regulatory risk.

“Chula Vista will stagnate as the incentive to replacing aging, smaller complexes with upgraded, more dense buildings will no longer exist. Owners of single-family rental homes will either sell to national real estate investment trusts or they will sell to new owner-occupants. Available rental stock will decrease. Prices for renters will increase because supply will continue to be highly restricted. Also worrisome is the provision that anyone who violates any part of this law could be charged with a crime and sent to jail for up to six months.”

Other speakers from PSAR made the following points:

-- Burdensome regulations will result in less available housing, not more. This ordinance adds to the regulatory burden.
-- Provisions in the ordinance meant to prevent harassment of tenants would deter property owners from dealing with nuisance tenants.
-- Added renovation regulations would deter owners from upgrading rental properties, thus hurting tenants and surrounding neighborhoods.
-- The ordinance would create new, vague “anti-harassment” rules regulating landlord-tenant interaction, expanded notification requirements of up to 365 days, and higher relocation payments.
-- Landlords would be required to offer evicted renters, even if those renters caused property damage, the first right of refusal to move back in after a renovation.
-- The state of California recently enacted protections for tenants with AB 1482. That law provides sufficient regulation of landlord-tenant relationships.

Coalition partners with PSAR on the proposed Chula Vista ordinance included the Southern California Rental Housing Association (SCRHA) and the San Diego Association of REALTORS® (SDAR).

More Articles and News Coverage

Renters, Landlords at Odds Over Proposed No-Fault Eviction Proposal - Mitch Thompson shows new appliances as part of remodeling efforts. KPBS-TV, 05/17/2022.

Chula Vista City Council Postpones Eviction Moratorium Protection Vote - No decision after more than five hours of public comments and postponement until July 12. KPBS-TV, 05/18/2022.

Chula Vista City Council Considers Controversial Tenant Protection Ordinance - PSAR board member Jason Lopez explains the proposal is a solution looking for a problem. KUSI-TV, 05/18/2022.

Chula Vista Considers Ordinance Strengthening Protections for Tenants - PSAR 2022 President Max Zaker and PSAR member Mitch Thompson tell NBC 7 how the proposal would actually hurt tenants. KNSD-TV NBC 7 San Diego, 05/16/2022.

Chula Vista Council Hears from Over 50 Speakers - The meeting lasted for hours as landlords say the proposed ordinance would force them to sell their propertiesKGTV-TV 10News, 05/17/2022.

Decision Postponed on Controversial Renters' Protections - Quote from PSAR CEO Rich D'Ascoli: "...An ordinance that is overreaching..." KFMB-TV, CBS8, 05/18/2022.


Topics: Brokers/Managers, Government Affairs, Industry, Property Management


Posted by Communications on May 16, 2022 1:00:00 PM

There is a critical shortage of housing inventory. An excessive amount of red tape helped cause that shortage. Now, the City of Chula Vista is considering additional regulations on Housing Providers.

The proposed "Residential Landlord and Tenant Provisions" will impose the following:

  • Regulations that make substantial remodels, owner move-ins, and withdrawal from the rental market more difficult by adding stricter noticing requirements and relocation assistance requirements.
  • The creation of laws that allows for civil action and damages of $1,000-5,000 per violation per day.
  • The criminalization of any violation of the ordinance and the creation of fines in the thousands of dollars.

Mayor Mary Salas requested the creation of this ordinance in response to calls from tenant and rent control advocates. Unfortunately, the unintended consequences of this ordinance would end up harming tenants as well.

The unintended consequences of this ordinance will include the following:

  • The added difficulties of being a housing provider in Chula Vista will discourage the creation of much needed additional housing. This will hurt all of us, including those who would have a much harder time finding a place to rent. 
  • The added difficulties of undertaking substantial renovations would deter owners from upgrading unsightly buildings. This hurts the tenants who would live there and the livability of the surrounding communities. 
  • Provisions in the ordinance meant to prevent harassment of tenants would actually deter property owners from dealing with tenants who cause nuisances. This would hurt the tenants and all neighbors who live nearby and would have to deal with the nuisances.

It is well established that when you add regulation to something, you get less of it. We need more housing, not less. The State of California has recently enacted protections for tenants by enacting AB 1482. If there are problems for tenants, the City could focus on finding better ways to enforce existing laws, rather than adding more regulations that will negatively impact our already scarce housing supply.

Please send an eComment to the City stating your opposition to this misguided ordinance by clicking on the button below, and then clicking on the "Leave Comment" button:






Not sure which Councilmember represents your neighborhood?  See below.

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Topics: Brokers/Managers, Government Affairs, Market Information, Industry, Property Management