Opinion: Who are Rent Control’s Biggest Beneficiaries?
3/29/2012 6:50:45 PM
Manhattan Institute fellow Nicole Gelinas on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s extension of rent control laws and the constitutional challenge to these regulations.
By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS
Decades-Old Housing ‘Emergency’ Continues, and So Does Rent Regulation
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed a bill on Monday that extended the city’s participation in rent regulation for another three years by redeclaring a state of housing emergency, even as a challenge to rent regulation laws looms in the United States Supreme Court.
“The Department of Housing Preservation and Development reports the vacancy rate in rental apartments to be at 3.12 percent,” Mr. Bloomberg said at the bill-signing ceremony. That, he continued, is “well below the 5 percent rate at which the law requires that rent regulation be discontinued.”
The city has had a vacancy rate of less than 5 percent since the department began keeping track more than 40 years ago, which means it has been in a state of housing emergency for all that time. But critics of rent regulation argue that an emergency by definition must be temporary.
Monday, March 26, 2012, 4:10 AM
J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP
A Manhattan brownstone owner suing over rent laws deserves his day in Supreme Court.
Against long odds, a Manhattan brownstone owner has argued a challenge to New York’s rent laws all the way to the doorstep of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Upper West Side attorney James Harmon, a former federal prosecutor, contends that government controls on three of the six apartments in his building unconstitutionally strip him of his property rights.
Two lower courts shot down his arguments. But he pressed his appeal to Washington and — much to the surprise of state and city housing officials — the high court demanded briefs on whether it should hear the case.
Those papers are now in, and they make clear that Harmon is raising fundamental issues that must be fully aired and definitely resolved.
The court should take the case and answer his simple but compelling question:
Supreme Court of the United States
ON PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
(800) 274-3321 • (800) 359-6859
JAMES D. HARMON, JR. and JEANNE HARMON,
JONATHAN L. KIMMEL, in his offi cial capacity
as MEMBER AND CHAIR OF THE NEW YORK
CITY RENT GUIDELINES BOARD, CITY OF NEW
YORK; DARRYL C. TOWNS, in his offi cial capacity as
COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK STATE HOMES AND
Writing at Time magazine, Yale Law School lecturer Adam Cohen takes notice of New York City landlord James Harmon’s legal challenge to the city’s rent stabilization law. As Cohen sees it, rent control and rent stabilization are both perfectly constitutional, but he still worries that Harmon may attract five sympathetic votes from the Supreme Court. He writes:
The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld rent control, going back to 1921. In 1988, in Pannell v. San Jose, it ruled 6-2 that San Jose’s law did not violate the Constitution — in an opinion written by the very conservative then Chief Justice William Rehnquist. In 1992, in Yee v. City of Escondido, the court unanimously rejected a claim that a rent-control ordinance was an unconstitutional taking of property — just the issue Harmon is raising.
These rulings should settle the question. But rent-control opponents clearly think they have a chance, given how pro-corporation the court is today…. They argue that rent control unconstitutionally deprives landlords of the right to charge as much rent as they want. They like to point to extreme cases of people benefiting who do not need it — like the actress Faye Dunaway, who until recently had a $1,048.72-a-month one-bedroom on the Upper East Side of Manhattan Continue reading
What If The Supreme Court Kills Rent Control?
Rent control seems unfair, but ending it could threaten people’s homes—and endanger important zoning regulations
In many congested cities – New York City most of all – rent control laws protect tenants who are lucky enough to have such leases from major rent increases. But the Supreme Court could be on the brink of striking down rent control. If it does, the court will hand landlords a huge victory and put many tenants in danger of losing their homes. It could also lay the groundwork for striking down a wide array of zoning laws.
The Supreme Court is considering a case filed by James Harmon, a onetime Reagan Administration lawyer who owns a brownstone on West 76th street in Manhattan. One of his tenants, an executive recruiter named Nancy Wing Lombardi, has leased a one-bedroom apartment in the building since 1976. Since the apartment is rent-controlled, she pays $1000 a month, at least half what an unregulated apartment in the same neighborhood would cost. Harmon argues that laws limiting how much rent he can charge are an unconstitutional “taking” of his property. The court has not yet decided to take the case, but it has asked for additional briefing – “taking a harder look,” the Wall Street Journal reported, “than anyone expected.” Continue reading
Upper West Side landlord hoping to take fight against rent control to Supreme Court
Last Updated: 8:39 AM, March 18, 2012
Will rents like this $55-a-month steal become illegal?
A landlord on the Upper West Side is seeking to take the question before the nation’s highest court, claiming that rent control and stabilization violates his constitutional rights.
James and Jeanne Harmon own a five-story brownstone on West 76th Street near Central Park. Of the six units in the building, three pay 59 percent below market rate, according to the complaint.
One tenant, Nancy Wing Lombardi, pays $951 a month and owns a second home in the Hamptons.
The Harmons lost their suit in state and federal courts, but the US Supreme Court is considering hearing their appeal. The city and the state submitted their response defending the rent system on March 6, and Harmon is expected to submit his response Tuesday. The nine justices in the next two or three months will decide whether they will hear the case.
Source: New York Post