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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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