Nepal warns against post-quake rent increases

KATHMANDU - Nepal's government fired a warning shot at landlords Friday, saying any property owner who tries to profit from a devastating quake that left thousands of families homeless would face legal action.

The April 25 disaster completely destroyed 288,798 houses nationwide while 254,112 homes were partially damaged, according to the Himalayan country's National Emergency Operation Centre.

Large areas of Kathmandu were turned into piles of rubble and almost two weeks on from the 7.8-magnitude quake thousands are still living in makeshift tents in the capital.

On Friday, the Nepalese home ministry warned in a statement that any landlord who took advantage of the tragedy by increasing rents would face the full force of the law.

"Respective district officials have been directed to take legal action against anyone trying to profit from this difficult situation and increase rent," the ministry said.

The statement added that rent spikes were "socially, morally and legally" wrong and appealed to the public to report any such incidents.

More than 7,800 people died in the quake, the deadliest to hit Nepal in 80 years.