Rent Spikes Denied

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Supreme Court says “No” to Upper West Side landlord, keeping rent control intact

By Sean Creamer and Anam Baig

James Harmon’s brownstone (center) at 32 W. 76th St.

James Harmon’s brownstone (center) at 32 W. 76th St.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court weighed a decision that could have meant the destruction of rent regulation in New York. The court decided on Monday morning, after several delays and requests for more information, not to hear a case brought by Upper West Side resident James Harmon against the state’s rent regulation laws. While supporters of Harmon’s fight grumble and regroup and advocates of rent regulation breathe a collective sigh of relief, many people have said that they were surprised that the challenge went this far in the first place, and that the fight to keep rent regulations in place is not likely to end any time soon.

City and state agencies charged with defending rent regulation reiterated the long-standing viability of the law, even as it is has faced legal challenges in the past.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court will allow the existing court rulings dismissing this case to stand. 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,” said Alan Krams, senior counsel of the Appeals Division, in a statement issued by the New York City Law Department.

While rent control is designed to enable people who cannot afford market-rate rents to stay at a comfortable level in the city, one disgruntled property owner decided that his tenants were taking advantage of this system. Harmon sued to overturn the regulations that he said amounted to the taking of his property, since he was not able to rent the units out at market rates. Continue reading