2019-07-16 — nytimes.com
The first notable constitutional challenge to rent controls came after Washington, D.C., and New York City adopted them following World War I. Since then, numerous suits have challenged regulations across the country, but the Supreme Court has ultimately upheld rent regulations.
The plaintiffs, however, have their sights on taking the suit to the Supreme Court, where they hope a new conservative majority will rule in their favor and recent rulings will buttress their case.
The suit has also been fast-tracked because of a Supreme Court ruling last month that allows plaintiffs to sue in federal court as soon as state and local governments take property without just compensation. An earlier ruling had required plaintiffs to sue in state court.
Still, reaching the Supreme Court could take years and chances are slim: The court accepts 100 to 150 of the more than 7,000 cases it is asked to review each year.
Rent stabilization has been in effect for over half a century with the purpose of providing affordable housing and alleviating New York's housing crisis.
But the suit says the rent-stabilized system was unconstitutional even before the new laws were signed, calling it arbitrary and irrational, and a burden on the rights of property owners.
It says that rent regulations exacerbate the city's housing shortage and that, because there are no restrictions on the incomes of rent-regulated tenants, the system allows wealthy New Yorkers to benefit unfairly.
Economically, the landlords are absolutely correct (it's pretty obvious that rent regulation has just exacerbated the underlying problem over time), but there is a weak basis to roll back anything except the recent changes, unless the entire regulatory deference standard since the late 19th-century is to be overturned.
Also ironic that the only reason a suit like this even has a shot is because Trump and the repubs cheated and put an extra water-carrying justice on the Supreme Court -- doubly-ironic with Trump himself standing to benefit as a landlord.
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