Last week the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to New York’s rent stabilization laws, Harmon v. Kimmel, brought by an Upper West Side landlord. In the case landlord James Harmon argued that the rent laws amounted to a “taking” of property in violation of the U.S. Constitution because he is unable to evict without cause the tenants in his brownstone. Although the law has long been settled in this area, there was some concern given the willingness of the current Supreme Court to reconsider and reverse long-term precedents. New York City and New York State submitted briefs defending the rent laws based upon longstanding precedent. The real estate community blanketed the court with “amicus” briefs which apparently did not sway the justices. The real estate community also organized a media blitz resulting in many news articles about the alleged “unfairness” of the rent laws. Tenants must remain ever vigilant and organized to preserve the rent laws which the real estate industry will continue to attack on legal, political and media fronts as long as there are bigger profits to be made.
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