LAKE COUNTY, Calif. (May 2, 2019) – In the aftermath of October 2017’s Sulphur Fire, the Lake County Board of Supervisors acted quickly to protect survivors by instituting $20,000 fines to deter Rental Housing Price Gouging. Instituted via Ordinance No. 3067, this action was effective, in that no District Attorney prosecutions were supported, nor any significant State efforts required to respond to reported issues.
On Tuesday, April 23, the Board acted to rescind the Ordinance, a decision that is expected to allow property owners to make modest price increases necessary to cover increasing costs.
Rental housing price gouging is common following major disaster events, due to the influx of insurance funds in affected communities, and the often widespread need for people to relocate.
In the wake of the Rocky, Jerusalem, Valley, and Clayton Fires of 2015 and 2016, the County had received reports of rent gouging; property owners significantly raising rents or even evicting tenants in order to take advantage of reduced housing supply and lucrative insurance reimbursements.
Ordinance No. 3067 was an important preventive measure.
District 5 Supervisor Rob Brown, who asked to have the item rescinding the Ordinance placed on the Board’s agenda, noted, “The folks we were trying to protect have places to live,” and suggested that rescinding the Ordinance would enable property owners to make necessary increases in rents to fund deferred maintenance and other costs. “The Ordinance, as initially planned, is no longer needed,” Brown said.
District 2 Supervisor, Bruno Sabatier, reminded the public that landlords are still bound by regulations protecting tenant rights, and that property owners will not be, “Free and clear to double or triple rents,” as a result of the Board taking action to rescind the Ordinance.
The Board’s 5-0 vote to rescind is a statement that the emergency conditions that required its enhanced consumer protections no longer exist.
“The Ordinance was well intended,” said Brown, “but rescinding this is a part of us getting over the disaster.”