The U.S. Supreme Court declined today to hear a case about the constitutionality of rent regulations in New York City, the New York Times reports. The case was brought by two owners of an Upper West Side brownstone near Central Park who charged that such a law subjected them to the “unconstitutional burden of involuntarily and permanently renting a part of their residence to tenant-strangers whom the [landlords] must subsidize for the rest of their lives.” Half of the six apartments they rent out in their building, whose lower floors the two occupy, are rent-stabilized, which means there are limits on how much the owners can raise the rent and that tenants can essentially renew their leases indefinitely.
A lower court ruled against the landlords last year, saying that “the couple knew what they were getting into when they acquired the building,” and also that they still retained many rights, including the abilities to reclaim apartments for their own use, to evict “unsatisfactory” tenants, and to demolish the building.
The Supreme Court upheld the legality of rent regulations as recently as 1992.
The city boasts 2.2 million rental units, the Times reports, half of which are regulated; one million are inhabited by their owners. Rents of non-regulated units are reaching all-time highs, the Times reported in a separate article.
Rent-regulation laws are scheduled to remain in effect until 2015:
Last month, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed a bill extending the regulations for another three years by re-declaring a state of housing emergency. The emergency has been in effect for more than 40 years.
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