Marin County Landlord and Agent — Accused of Hiking Rent Prices During Deadly Wildfire — Face Price-Gouging Charges

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A Marin County landlord and his agent are facing criminal charges for allegedly raising the rent on a home by more than $2,800 a month as a destructive wildfire gutted the region in October 2017.

Property owner Richard Scott Parke, 57, and Pamela Kelley, 55, a San Francisco-based Realtor and property manager, were each charged Thursday with four misdemeanor counts of price gouging for allegedly raising the rent on Parke’s three-bedroom property in Novato by 58% in a week, according to the California Department of Justice.

The rent was raised, authorities allege, as the Tubbs fire raged in adjacent Napa and Sonoma counties. By the end of October 2017, the most destructive fire in modern state history had burned 36,807 acres, destroyed more than 5,000 structures and left 22 people dead, according to Cal Fire.

Parke’s 1,740 square-foot single-family home was offered for rent at $4,950 per month before the fire. On Oct. 10, the day after Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the region, the asking price initially rose to $6,800. Then, it was hiked again on the same day to $9,500 a month, according to the criminal complaint filed in Marin County Superior Court.

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