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law booksA Joplin, Missouri landlord is being sued for price gouging under consumer protection laws after tenants complained the man raised their rents.
According to a statement by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, following the May 22 tornado that caused extensive property damage throughout the city of Joplin, the landlord notified tenants that their rent was being raised.The landlorddemanded that tenants contact him within three days or their rental unit could be leased to someone else.Koster said his office received complaints from 13 renters who had received a notice. In one instance, a renter was notified his rent would go from $475 per month to $595 per month, a 25 percent increase. Two other renters were notified their rent would go from $475 to $550 per month, a 16 percent increase.

Unfortunately, there are always those who will take advantage of unsuspecting consumers during times of tragedy, Koster said, I want to continue to assure consumers that this office will be aggressive in going after those who engage in this illegal behavior.

The lawsuit also alleges that the names under which the defendant conducted business were not registered with the Missouri Secretary of State, as required by law.

Koster is asking the court to issue a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendant from engaging in unlawful, unfair, and deceptive practices and to require the defendant to pay full restitution to those consumers who were harmed; pay a civil penalty of $1,000 per violation of the law; pay the state an amount equal to 10 percent to the total restitution ordered; and to pay all court and investigation costs.

The Attorney General previously obtained temporary restraining orders against two towing companies which conducted business in Joplin following the tornado, and is actively seeking restitution for consumers and civil penalties in both cases.

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  • Ken Folmar

    Very helpful Article re rent increases by landlord.
    I rent a room downstairs in a single family home in CA. Is it true
    That a reasonable rent increase could up to 8%?
    and if so, what justification would be needed, and at what frequentcy?

    The reason I ask is that I am renting the room for less
    than the comparable rents in the surrounding areas.

  • Archie Stulc, Jr.

    Ken,

    My family and I have been in the rental field as landlords, caretakers, and property managers for decades and the answer that i can give you is “Yes”.

    Actually i was given a rule of thumb, long ago, about rent increases. 10% is the max reasonable increase in any one given year. And if you don’t want to start losing tenants, keeep it under that, and raise it only every 2 years, if you absolutely need to.

    A better idea is to tie the increases to the rate of inflation. But, again, only once a year.

    As far as to what is the justification….All I can express is the legal reasons. The cost of taxes, maintenance and financing have gone up, or simply, the owner just wants more money.

    Since you are already paying less than comperable rooms in the surrounding area…I would suggest that you count yourself lucky, and if necessary, accept a modest rent increase, if it does come, with a smile on your face. After all, that increase will still mean that you are paying les than the same place somewhere else that is also getting an increase.

    If you need more info, and the information specific to your area, try your local Attorney General’s office, local library, or if you are truely bothered and can afford it, a housing lawyer.

  • LAURA JIMENEZ

    What should I do about my landlord who within days change prices from an added$25 to $100 more and I haven’t given my notice to leave. My lease is up in late February.

  • Sherrie Puraty

    My lease expires in a month. ..last week my landlord texted to inform me that she would only agree to renew my lease if I agree to a $500 price increase, from $1500 to $2000. Is this fair? She knows that I’m a single parent w/limited income and cannot afford that much. Because real estate is rapidly rising, she feels that it’s fair. I think it’s a form of price gouging! What do you think?

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