Debate Over Rent Control

MY9tv.com

Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 9:45 AM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 9:45 AM EDT

Brenda Flanagan, Staff Reporter, MY9TV.COM

MY9TV.COM – The fight over rent-stabilized apartments in New York City has gone all the way to the nation’s highest court.

Tenents who have spent most of their lives in these apartments say they can not afford to move out.
While landlords say they feel victimized.
Brenda Flanagan has more on the fight that seems to have no end.

Thomas Lake likes living with his grandmother in a rent-stabilized apartment on the Upper West Side. The river view from some apartments in his building takes your breath away.  He tells us, “This is a really nice place. I grew up here. I was born here. So I plan to stay.” Continue reading

‘Ruined’ by rent control

Ny Post

‘Ruined’ by rent control

Landlords may lose home

By ANNIE KARNI

Posted:2:37 AM, May 6, 2012

The lawsuit that almost overturned the city’s rent-control laws only succeeded in upending the lives of the Upper West Side couple who brought the case.

After the Supreme Court refused to hear New York’s highest-profile lawsuit challenging rent control, landlords James and Jeanne Harmon said they may have to sell the five-story town house at the center of the battle — a brownstone their family has called home for three generations.

James HarmonHELAYNE SEIDMAN                                                                             CRY POVERTY: Live-in-landlord James Harmon say she may lose his brownstone because half of his tenants pay $1,000 a month through rent control. 

The case has been costly. The couple had to put off retirement, they cannot provide homes for their grandchildren and they are treated like pariahs by some neighbors on West 76th Street.

“We feel total uncertainty about the future at age 69,” James Harmon, a Vietnam veteran and former federal prosecutor, told The Post. “This was devastating to our family because the house is part of our family. This is the place I grew up, and this is the place my mother died. We should be able to keep this house, but we don’t know if we can continue to do that.”

Harmon argued the city’s 43-year-old rent-regulation laws violated the Fifth Amendment, which protects private property from seizure for public use without “just compensation.” Harmon claimed the rent law denies him that compensation, forcing him to bankroll the lifestyles and second homes of his tenants.

The Harmons occupy an elegant one-bedroom apartment on the building’s parlor floor. They rent six one-bedroom units: three at market value and three at rent-stabilized rates 59 percent below market.

The Harmons moved into the building in 2005, after they took out a $1.5 million mortgage to buy Harmon’s brother’s share of the building they inherited. Continue reading

US Supreme Court rejects rent control challenge

Crain's New York

 

High court declines to hear the case of a Manhattan couple who claimed that New York City’s rent stabilization law was forcing them to subsidize tenants in their Upper West Side brownstone.

April 23, 2012 12:45 p.m.

Published: April 23, 2012 – 12:45 pm

{Bloomberg} The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal that would have challenged New York City’s rent stabilization laws. The decision was released Monday morning.

Landlords James and Jeanne Harmon, who own a five-story, six-unit brownstone at 32 W. 76th Street claim that the city’s rent stabilization laws unconstitutionally forces them to subsidize three of their tenants who pay rents that are 59% below market. The Harmons’ case, which began in 2008, was rejected by a federal district court and a New York State Supreme Court. Mr. Harmon appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court and late last year there was a sign of hope when the Court ordered the city and state to respond to the petition, something that previous courts did not require.

“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,” said Mr. Harmon, in a statement. “Because of rent stabilization, it will now continue to be difficult for us to keep our home of five generations. We will not demolish our home as the federal courts suggested that we should do if we did not like the law.”

The brownstone has been in Mr. Harmon’s family since 1949. He inherited it in 1994. According to Mr. Harmon’s petition, “New York City’s Rent Stabilization Law has forced the Harmons to lease apartments permanently to three tenants-in-possession for over 90 tenant years (and their designated successors) without regard to financial need.” Mr. Harmon, who resides in the building with his wife, claims that as a result the building’s value has been reduced substantially and his family is deprived of appropriate income. Continue reading

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.

NYC Rent Control: US Supreme Court Won’t Hear Harmon V. Kimmel

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal that seeks to end rent stabilization laws in New York City.

The high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from James and Jeanne Harmon, who have lost earlier court attempts to get rent stabilization laws thrown out.

The Harmons' building in the Upper West Side.

The Harmons inherited a building with three rent-controlled apartments near Central Park on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The Harmons say rent stabilization laws forces them to rent the apartments at rents 59 percent below market rate. They argue that by giving the tenants lifetime tenure with succession rights, the government has illegally taken their property.

A federal judge and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City threw out their lawsuit. The high court refused to review that decision.

 

Source: The Huffington Post.

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.

The Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in Challenge to NYC’s Rent-Control Law

 

Posted by Trevor Burrus

Today, the Supreme Court declined to review Harmon v. Kimmel, a case challenging New York City’s rent control law. For a case that merely had the possibility of getting to the high court,Harmon has received a surprising amount of attention. A lot of this attention is due to the persistence of Mr. Harmon, who has admirably been fighting this important battle on behalf of thousands of similarly situated landlords who are forced to subsidize cheap rents, often for tenants who can easily afford to pay the market price. According to the Wall Street Journal, one of the Harmons’ rent-controlled tenants even “owns a second home near the shore in Southampton, where she spends weekends gardening and playing tennis.”

As I said in January in a Reason.tv video, rent control is something that nearly every economist can agree on: it lowers the amount of housing, it lowers the quality of housing, it raises the total costs of finding and securing housing, and it doesn’t even guarantee that those who need cheaper housing will get it. Nevertheless, it seems as if rent control will remain as much a part ofNew York City’s culture as Broadway theatre and pizza.

In addition to the ill-effects of rent control on a housing market, perhaps the most pernicious aspect is that it allows lawmakers to force the costs of subsidizing others onto private individuals. New York Citycould certainly create a program in which tax dollars are used to directly subsidize the rents of those in need by giving money either to the tenant or to the landlord. The city could also provide more state-built, low-income housing. Either program could achieve the goals of rent control without many of the accompanying negative effects (although, of course, both programs would have many horrible problems of their own).

Such taxpayer-funded programs, however, would not serve the immediate goals of many city politicians: to provide benefits seemingly without cost. In a way, rent-control laws are a lot like the individual mandate of Obamacare currently under challenge in the Supreme Court. Both allow lawmakers to use regulatory requirements in lieu of raising taxes to pay for a program (I discussed how this works in Obamacare here). Rent-control laws permit lawmakers to avoid the political accountability of taxpayer-funded, on-budget subsidization by forcing individual property owners to subsidize tenants in the name of the “public good.” Whatever the merits of such a proposal, innocent landlords such as the Harmons should not be forced to become pawns in lawmakers’ attempts to avoid losing the next election.

It is unfortunate that the Court will not hear the case, but I applaud Mr. Harmon for bringing much-needed attention to an important issue.

Does the End of Rent Control Start Today? Supreme Court Will Decide Whether or Not to Hear UWS Suit

The RENT | April 16, 2012 | 9:45am
By Kim Velsey

Decision time. Will the Supreme Court hear the rent control case? (IslesPunkFan, flickr)

Forget sweet nothings and exclusive party invitations. The two words most New Yorkers long to hear are “rent controlled.” But like so many (impossible?) dreams, this, too, may soon be dead.

The Supreme Court could decide today whether or not to hear a case brought by former federal prosecutor James D. Harmon Jr., the owner of a five-story townhouse on West 76th Street. Mr. Harmon, who grew up in the brownstone and now lives there with his wife Jeanne, inherited the building and its three rent-controlled tenants from his grandfather. He argues that New York City’s rent laws violate the Constitution by taking his property without just compensation.

Continue reading