California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a complaint against a realtor and property owner for alleged price gouging on a rental property in Novato during the October wildfires.
The four-count misdemeanor complaint filed in Marin County Superior Court alleges Pamela Kelley, 55, a San Francisco-based realtor and property manager, and Scott Parke, 57, of Marin County and Vietnam, the owner of the property at 6 Terry Court, raised the rent of the property more than the 10 percent allowed during a declared state of emergency.
Before the wildfires, on October 8 the monthly rent on the property was $4,950. After Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Sonoma, Napa and several other counties on Oct. 9, the monthly rent rose more than 10 percent or $495 to $6,800.
A few minutes later the rent was hiked to $9,500 a month, nearly double the pre-emergency rate, according to the complaint.
On Oct. 11, the property was listed at $7,500 a month or 37 percent above the legal limit.
On Oct. 15, the property was listed and rented for $7,825 a month, more than 40 percent above the legal limit and almost $3,000 more than it listed a week earlier, according to the complaint.
“Using emergency situations to squeeze money from consumers is a disgrace and will not be tolerated,” Becerra said in a news release.
The penalty for misdemeanor price gouging is up to one year in a county jail and/or a fine up to $10,000. Violators also face civil enforcement actions that include penalties up to $5,000 per violation and mandatory restitution.
By James Lanaras.