High Court Denies Certiorari in Rent Stabilization Case

By Brendan Pierson Contact All Articles

New York Law Journal

April 24, 2012

 

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on April 23 that it will not hear a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of New York City’s rent-stabilization law.

The case, Harmon v. Kimmel, 11-496, was filed against the city in 2008 by James Harmon and his wife, Jeanne. The couple owns an Upper West Side brownstone with six apartments, of which three are rent stabilized. The Harmons argued that the 1969 rent-stabilization law, intended to respond to a housing shortage, was an unconstitutional taking of their property.

Southern District Judge Barbara Jones (See Profile) dismissed the case in February 2010, and Judges Amalya Kearse (See Profile), Robert Sack (See Profile) and Robert Katzmann (See Profile) of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal in March 2011. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an appeal marks the end of the case.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court will allow the existing court rulings dismissing this case to stand,” Alan Krams, senior counsel in the Appeals Division of the Corporation Counsel’s office, said in a press release. “Rent regulation in New York City has a long history, and the Court properly left it to elected state and city officials to decide its future.”

James Harmon said in an e-mail that the Harmon family was disappointed in the court’s denial of cert. “We still believe that the Constitution does not allow the government to force us to take strangers into our home at our expense for life. Even our grandchildren have been barred from living with us. That is not our America.”

“We are deeply disappointed that the United States Supreme Court did not accept what we believe to be relevant and legitimate property rights concerns of all New York City rent-regulated property owners, who have endured 70 years of rent regulation in one form or another,” Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, which filed an amicus brief on the Harmons’ side, said in a press release.

 

Source: New York Law Journal.

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Challenge to New York Rent Control Regulations

 

Posted Apr 23, 2012 9:12 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

 

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to New York’s rent control regulations.

A plaintiff in the Fifth Amendment case was James Harmon, a former prosecutor who runs a corporate investigations firm. The high court denied cert today, SCOTUSblog reports.

Harmon inherited his New York brownstone in the 1990s. One of his tenants who pays $1,000 in monthly rent also owns a home near the shore in Southampton.

 

Source: ABA Journal.

A Good Primer for the Economic Justification of the Harmon’s Case


REALITY CHECK

 

Want Cheaper Rent? End Rent Control

By Amanda Williams, 02/03/2012

The Supreme Court may have a chance this year to determine whether rent control is constitutional or whether it represents a “taking” without just compensation. A topic worthy of debate—but in my view, there are sound economic reasons rent control (like many government regulations), however well intentioned, is woefully misguided. To see why, let’s return briefly to Economics 101.

Anyone who took an economics class will likely have (possibly painful) flashbacks in examining Exhibit 1, which shows a generic supply and demand graph, with price and quantity on the x- and y-axes, respectively. Basic economic theory expects a supply curve to slope upward because the higher the price a good’s provider can obtain, the more he’s willing to supply. On the flip side, demand for most goods is downward sloping because, on average, consumers are less-inclined to consume higher quantities of a good the more it costs. The intersection of the two determines the price and quantity the market supports (commonly known as equilibrium).

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Final Decision Barring the Harmons From Recovering a Rent Stabilized Property for Their Own Use, Based on a Technicality

 

HARMON v. MERVINE
2012 NY Slip Op 50134(U)

JAMES D. HARMON, JR. & JEANNE HARMON, Petitioners,

v.

CHERYL MERVINE, Respondent.

51685/10.
Civil Court of the City of New York, New York County.


Decided February 1, 2012.

Lester J. Figueroa, Esq.Borah Goldstein Altschuler et al., 377 Broadway, New York, NY 10013, (212) 431-1300.
Janet Ray Kalson, Esq.Himmelstein McConnell Gribben et al., 15 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038, (212) 349-3000.

The Harmons File An Application to Have Their Case Heard By the U.S. Supreme Court

 

Final Petition – Harmon v. Kimmel

No. 11-
IN THE
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
A
JAMES D. HARMON, JR. and JEANNE HARMON,
Petitioners,
v.
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
COMMUNITY RENEWAL,
Respondents.
PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI

Affordable Housing Advocates Support Harmon Rent Control Challenge, Part 1

 


RENT CONTROL’S CONSTITUTIONALITY: PART 1, COMETH THE HOUR
January 25, 2012 


Even dropped from the Empire State Building, it can’t kill anyone
Even dropped from the Empire State Building, it can’t kill anyone

Though ’tis a consummation devoutly to be wished, I had given up believing that rent control would ever be ruled an economic taking without due process or just compensation (even though it is both), because the procedural and administrative defenses mounted by a determined confiscatory local government are so tortuous to besiege and scale that for nearly forty years no one has. 

Destined to have his name in the law books? James Harmon


Destined to have his name in the law books? James Harmon

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Prof. Richard Epstein Responds to Critics

 

Rent-Control Laws Hamper New York’s Housing Market

LETTERS | January 13, 2012
Richard Rafal’s letter (Jan. 10) replying to my “Rent Control Hits the Supreme Court”(op-ed, Jan. 4) shows a slender grasp of economic principle when he defends New York’s stringent rent-control laws by observing, “New York, the most rent-regulated city in the country, has always had some of the most expensive real estate in the world.” So it does, for two reasons.
The rent-control laws perpetuate the low level of utilization of key properties. Also, New York’s punitive Uniform Land Use Review Procedure places enormous local hurdles in the path of new development, to further constrict the supply. The high real-estate values to which Mr. Rafal refers are confined to those lucky enough to survive the process. Huge swaths of land remain undeveloped, perpetuating these monopoly rents.
Richard A. Epstein
Palo Alto, Calif.
Richard Rafal dismisses the movement to abolish rent control by stating that such abolition would only benefit the owners. Of course it would, in the same way that restoration of stolen goods benefits the victim of a robbery. The beneficiary of rent control is legally taking advantage of an immoral law.

Las Vegas Gets It!

 


EDITORIAL

Rent control: High court may take up important case

Posted: Jan. 9, 2012 | 1:59 a.m.
In parts of America, an apartment is a place to live for a few years while saving for a house.
That’s less likely to be true in a dense urban metropolis, where land values are so high that even well-to-do families can occupy apartments for a generation or more.
That means tenants — who vote — generally outnumber landlords. When costs go up, landlords seek to raise rents. The tenants squawk. The political result? Rent control.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia “exposed the deeply antidemocratic nature of rent control in Pennell v. City of San Jose,” points out New York University law professor Richard Epstein in the Jan. 4 Wall Street Journal. “If the government thinks some high social end is served by allowing tenants to sit on someone else’s property in perpetuity, then it should use public funds … to buy or lease the premises for market value which it can then lease out to particular tenants.”