The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

National News

April 23, 2012

Supreme Court disappoints landlords, rejects rent-control challenge

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to New York City’s famed rent-control ordinance, a post-World War II housing measure that limits the rents of more than a million apartments.

The court’s refusal Monday to hear the case is a setback for property-rights activists, who had hoped a more conservative court would protect landlords and a free market in rentals. For decades, critics have said rent-control laws deny property owners the right to fully profit from their investment.

But the high court has been reluctant to second-guess zoning or property regulations unless they deny the owner all use of his land.

The justices, four of whom grew up in New York City, turned away an appeal from James and Jeanne Harmon, who own a five-story brownstone building on West 76th Street in Manhattan. The couple say they have no choice but to rent three apartments on the upper floors for less than half of their market value. They also say that one of their long-time tenants can pay a $1,500-a-month mortgage on a Long Island house because he pays only $951 a month to rent a unit in Harmon’s building.

In his appeal, James Harmon said the rent control law violated the Fifth Amendment, which says “private property (shall not) be taken for public use without just compensation.”

“Contrary to the popular myth, the Rent Stabilization Law is not targeted to help the needy,” James Harmon wrote, representing himself in his appeal to the high court. “A person could make millions of dollars annually and still qualify for a rent-stabilized apartment. It is all about luck, a racket in which property owners and market rate tenants always lose.”

He also noted that the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., had four rent-stabilized apartments in the city.

City officials denied that the benefits of rent control go mostly to those who are well off. Instead, they said the persistent shortage of affordable housing gives landlords undue leverage to charge exorbitant rents. By limiting the annual rise in rents, the “rent stabilization” ordinance permits middle-class residents to continue living in the city, they said.

The U.S. appeals court in Manhattan ruled against Harmon last year and said rent regulation is not a “taking” of private property. It takes the votes of four justices to grant an appeal. Without comment Monday, the court said it would not hear Harmon’s case.

Since World War II, the state and city have adopted a series of rent-control measures. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to news reports, called Monday’s decision “good news. ... Rent regulations are very important to the tenants of New York.”

Since the 1920s, the high court had upheld city zoning laws as reasonable regulations of property, even though they can be costly to land owners. In 1992, the court ruled for a developer who was told he could not build on two beachfront lots. But the justices have stressed that an unconstitutional “taking” of private property is limited to situations where the owner is deprived of all use of his land.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • Salmonella decline seen in food poisoning report

    The government’s latest report card on food poisoning shows a dip in salmonella cases but an increase in illnesses from bacteria in raw shellfish.

    April 18, 2014

  • Judge in gay marriage case asks pointed questions

    A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions.

    April 17, 2014

  • Obama shows skepticism on Russia in Ukraine

    President Barack Obama conveyed skepticism Thursday about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United State and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn’t make good on its commitments.

    April 17, 2014

  • Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find

    Secret Service investigators say they are close to gaining a full understanding of the methods hackers used to breach Target’s computer systems last December.

    April 17, 2014

  • Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies

    As political campaigns begin to heat up, the Supreme Court is deciding whether false accusations and mudslinging made during an election can be punished as a crime.

    April 16, 2014

  • Auto Show Nissan Hot _Cast.jpg Hot models at this year’s New York Auto Show

    With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the U.S. auto industry.

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • Transportation Blues 2.jpg Congress is giving states the transportation blues

    On the road in a tour bus this week, the U.S. transportation secretary is spreading some bad news: the government’s Highway Trust Fund is nearly broke.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Report: Russia withheld intel before Boston attack

    A yearlong review of information the U.S. intelligence community had prior to the Boston Marathon bombing found that the investigation could have been more thorough.

    April 11, 2014

  • Obama Health Secretary.jpg Obama announces Sebelius resignation, successor

    President Barack Obama praised outgoing Health and Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for helping to steer his health care law’s comeback after a rocky rollout, even as he nominated a successor aimed at helping the White House move past the political damage.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police seek driver in deadly Florida day care crash

    As mourners trickled by Thursday to honor the 4-year-old girl who was killed and 14 others injured in a crash at a Florida day care, authorities scoured the state for the driver they said fled in the vehicle that caused the fatal wreck.

    April 10, 2014

Facebook
Poll

A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

Yes.
No.
     View Results
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
NDN Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case