The U.S. Supreme Court may be getting ready to hear a case that can have a huge impact on New York City. It is a move by a home owner at 32 W. 76th Street to declare New York’s system of rent regulation to be unconstitutional.
The issues are clear-cut and straightforward. The home owner is wondering why he should be subsidizing a tenant who has a rent controlled or rent stabilized apartment that rents for $1,000 per month. An unregulated neighbor, in a substantially similar apartment next door, pays $2,650 per month. The rent regulated tenant, Ms. Lombardi, has occupied the apartment since 1976, and so, has had the benefit of a below market rent almost the entire time. Ms. Lombardi, it should be noted, owns a home in Southampton!
James Harmon inherited the home along with the tenants. According to the Daily News, “Three of their six rental apartments are occupied by tenants who pay 59% below market value,” and Harmon told the News last year, “The issue is whether the Constitution allows the government to force someone to take strangers into their home and to subsidize them for the rest of their lives… My family has carried the burden of this for 40 years and enough is enough.”
The home owner, James Harmon is very clear that he doesn’t have anything against his tenants. The problem is with New York’s law, which forces him to subsidize some of his tenants for life.