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Judge Shoots Down Landlord Groups' Challenge To New York Rent Regulation Law

The U.S. Eastern District Court of New York in Brooklyn

New York State’s controversial 2019 rent regulation laws were upheld in a landmark court decision Wednesday.

New York Eastern District Court Judge Eric Komitee dismissed a lawsuit, brought by landlord groups Community Housing Improvement Program and Rent Stabilization Association, that challenged the legality of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, The Real Deal reports.

The laws limit late fees, broker fees, application fees and the total amount landlords can spend to renovate rent-stabilized apartments. They also restrict landlords' ability to bring the apartments out of stabilization and into the free market.

Landlord groups plotted to take the laws to federal court since Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed them last year, calling the measures “devastating” and “irresponsible.” Landlords have argued that the laws punished them for improving their properties. Tenant advocates who helped push the laws through said the regulations were long overdue to protect renters in a market that long tilted heavily in landlords' favor

In April, during the first court hearing on the new legislation, a judge in the New York Court of Appeals ruled in favor of landlords, striking down a portion of the law that said the court could look back on six years of rent history to determine whether the landlord would be ordered to pay back charges. 

In the Eastern District, landlords argued that the laws violated the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment, which bars the taking of private property "without just compensation." Komitee wrote that according to case law, lawmakers have the right to enact legislation regulating rent, even if it causes property value to go down.  

CHIP and RSA plan to appeal to the Second Circuit and hope eventually for a Supreme Court hearing — potentially with a 6-3 conservative majority.

“We think the appeals process will bring about success for the case — and at a time where fundamental questions about the future of housing in New York are being driven by current events, that success can’t come soon enough,” a spokesperson for CHIP and RSA told TRD