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Self-Storage Operators Must be Cautious About Price-Gouging Laws During National State of Emergency
The SSA has created a document summarizing laws in all 50 states and Washington, D.C

March 17, 2020: During a state of emergency, operators of self-storage facilities should consult with their legal counsel regarding the application of their state’s pricing laws before changing rental rates for both current and prospective tenants. The Trump Administration has declared a national state of emergency on March 13 in response to the coronavirus outbreak. If someone breaks the low could face fines and other penalties. 

Once a state of emergency is declared, many states have price restrictions, commonly referred to as price-gouging laws, that take effect. Although these laws differ, they generally put a cap on raising prices for certain goods and services above a certain percentage from the amount charged immediately preceding the declaration, subject to certain narrow exceptions. Some of these laws are clearly applicable to self-storage, some clearly are not, and others are uncertain in scope.” the Self Storage Association (SSA) posted on its website on March 13.

Importantly, many of these laws create so-called strict liability offenses. In other words, it only must be proven that the unlawful rate increase occurred, without a valid exemption provided by the law, not that an operator had a specific intent to violate the law or ‘gouge’ the tenant.” SSA stated. 

Although few businesses would intentionally raise their rates because of a natural disaster, the laws may affect [operators’] ability to implement even standard rate increases during a state of emergency” SSA officials said.