The Case Against Rent Stabilization

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    The Supreme Court is “taking a surprisingly serious look” at New York’s rent regulation laws, according to a story in the Journal outlining the legal precedents that a Manhattan couple are using to challenge the regulations and how the city and New York AG are defending stabilization. The back story: “James and Jeanne Harmon, the owners of an Upper West Side brownstone, are waging an underdog constitutional battle against rent rules forcing them to subsidize their tenants — including Nancy Wing Lombardi, an executive who pays about $1,000 a month for a one-bedroom unit and also owns a house in the Hamptons.” The Harmons say rent stabilization violates the “Fifth Amendment, which says the government can’t take private property for public use without just compensation.” The city and state argue that stabilization doesn’t actually constitute taking based on an earlier ruling that found that if you’ve already allowed tenants, “taking” isn’t involved. The Harmons are also making a due process claim: “arguing that the high court established 90 years ago that rent controls can’t be permanent but only a temporary response to a ‘catastrophic’ emergency. That, they say, was the upshot of a 1922 ruling, the last time the high court looked at the constitutionality of New York City’s rent controls.” And, finally, the couple is arguing that rent regulations are a “racket in which property owners and market rate tenants always lose,” but the state is countering that this sort of argument about policy aren’t relevant to the legality of the regulations.
    The Legal War Over NYC’s Rent Regulations [WSJ]
    Photo by shinsawbu

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