Will New Yorkers Lose Rent Stabilization?

Angered by the new rent laws passed down from Albany last month, landlords are now aiming to take down NYC’s rent-regulation system in its entirety. Groups representing more than 29,000 landlords and building owners teamed up to file a lawsuit in the federal court in Brooklyn, claiming that caps on rent increases are unconstitutional and violate the 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. The parties being sued include New York City, the Rent Guidelines Board, and the state agency that oversees the system.

New York isn’t the only state that is contending with stricter laws that favor tenants. In February, Oregon passed a law that imposes rent control statewide. Although nowhere near as strict as New York’s new laws, which keep rent stabilized programs in the system in perpetuity, the law pertains to every residential rental in the state. New York’s program encompasses roughly 1 million of the City’s 3 million apartments.

Although it’s questionable whether the violations will stick–the Fifth Amendment states that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation and the 14th Amendment prohibits a state from depriving people of property without due process–the implications could set an example nationwide. Currently California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. are the only places in the US where there are government-mandated caps on rent.

Since World War I there have been numerous attempts to do away with rent control, however none have triumphed. The plaintiffs of this case are hoping that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority will change all that, however the path to get there is long and uncertain. It could take years to reach the Supreme Court, and even then, only about 2% of cases are accepted for review.

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