SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - A warning has been issued to rental property owners hoping to use the Northern California wildfire tragedy to boost profits.
The California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) issued a statement Wednesday, saying it's fully investigating reports of illegal price gouging in the wake of the fires.
"The people who have suffered losses due to the horrific fires should never have to suffer further from rent price gouging," wrote California Real Estate Commissioner Wayne Bell.
California law states that once a state of emergency is declared, people who rent out properties for a short amount of time (less than one year) for more than 10 percent of what they'd charge just before the emergency, could be found guilty of a misdemeanor.
People convicted of price gouging could serve time in jail, a fine up to $10,000, or both.
Bell also warns victims of the recent fires to only work with California licensed real estate agents and contractors.
"Disasters are too often followed by unlicensed contractors and others who take undue advantage of consumers who are in desperate need of qualified assistance," he said.
To file a complaint against a real estate licensee or regarding unlicensed activity, visit www.dre.ca.gov.
To file a complaint with The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) against a licensee, contact DCA at (800) 952-5210. You can also file a complaint online at www.dca.ca.gov.
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