VIDEO: Petaluma mobile home park tenants claim landlords unfairly raising rent after North Bay Firestorm


PETALUMA (KRON) -- Dozens of Petaluma neighbors are saying the same thing on Thursday night--they do not know where they'll go if their landlord raises the rent.

And they're facing a 50 percent increase.

But tenants claim the landlords are unfairly raising rent following the devastating North Bay wildfires.

In Sonoma County, more than 1,000 homes were destroyed by wildfire in early October.

By mid-October, both the president and Governor Jerry Brown had declared a state of emergency in Sonoma County. That declaration includes language that is meant to prevent price gouging.

This afternoon, KRON4 spoke with neighbors who say their landlord is violating that declaration.

Back on Oct. 31, the residents of the Little Woods Mobile Home Park in Petaluma received a notice from the owners stating that their rents would be going up by roughly 51 percent.

Many of the people who live there have low or fixed incomes and the news was devastating.

But according to Attorney Evan Livingstone, the owners may have broken the law.

The rent increase notice was given out less than 30 days after both the President of the United States and Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Sonoma County following the devastating wildfires that started in early October.

California Penal Code 396 states that once a disaster has been declared by either the president or the governor, rents cannot be raised by more than 10 percent for 30 days.

"So the owners here think that doesn't apply to their rent increase," Livingstone said. "We think it does."

KRON4's reached out to the owners of the property on Thursday afternoon, but no one was available to comment for this story.

Livingstone concedes that the owners do have the right to raise rents to cover their expenses, but it shouldn't have happened while the state of emergency was still in place.

Meanwhile, the residents KRON4 spoke to say they would agree to a rent increase, but hopefully, it would be something far less than 50 percent.

Finally, the tenants and owners have an arbitration scheduled for early January.


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