DENVER — Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser sent letters to Airbnb and REColorado urging them to address the risk of illegal price gouging on rental properties following reported concerns from people impacted by the Marshall Fire.
In the letters, Weiser told the companies he’s received complaints about some landlords raising their prices excessively after hundreds of Coloradans lost their homes in the Dec. 30 wildfire. He asked that the companies take the necessary steps to ensure people aren’t using their platforms to take advantage of people during this time.
Weiser previously told Denver7 his office is looking into the complaints it’s received, and they will investigate to determine if the reported price increases are, in fact, price gouging or a “function of supply and demand” in Colorado’s hot housing market.
Under Colorado law, it’s illegal during a disaster period — which Gov. Jared Polis declared the day of the fire — to charge excessive prices for certain essential products, goods or services. Price gouging is considered a deceptive trade practice under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act. The disaster period lasts for 180 from the date of declaration.
“The potential for thousands of Coloradans who suffered great loss to be then faced with excessively and unjustifiably high housing costs is not just a legal problem, but also a moral one,” Weiser said in a statement.
The attorney general asked the companies to respond to his letters by the close of business on Jan. 25.
While the letters went to two specific companies, the Attorney General’s Office reiterated that the law applies to all landlords and rental properties, including those that do not use the platforms.
Coloradans who witness price gouging or who think they might be a victim of price gouging should file a report with the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 222-4444 or StopFraudColorado.gov.