So many apartments in New York heard good news this week. The Harmon v. Kimmel case had been garnering widespread attention from all quarters of NYC. The civil dispute in respect to the Rent Stabilization Law has been one of the most closely followed lawsuits in recent times. Possibly because of its potential of holding the key to more than a million apartments in New York where rents are regulated by the state agencies as per the Rent Control Law.
Over half of the more than 2 million apartments in New York are regulated by the NYC Rent Control Law which legally bounds the landlord to rent out there apartments at as much as 60 % lower rates than the market value. The law was challenged by James and Jeanne Harmon, a couple who owns a five storey building on West 76th Street near the Central Park. The lawsuit expressed Mr. Harmon’s comments that the law compels a landlord to have his property be publicly used without just compensation. The dispute could have been instrumental in defining the situation for over a million tenants who live in New York and for the landlords who are into the rental business.
Incidentally, not all apartments in New York of the Harmons are subjected to the Rent Stabilization Law. The building they own and operate is partially controlled. The court observed that the Harmons knew the law precisely and its implications at the time of buying the building hence in hindsight, they challenging the lawsuit did not have much to delve with the existing Rent Stabilization Law.
Those who live in rental apartments in New York may have reasons to rejoice and can be pleased to know that not only would the increases in their rent be regularized should one challenge such an amendment in court but the law also allows tenants to renew their lease for indefinite periods.
While declining to hear the suit filed by the Harmons, the justices observed that the housing shortage still exists in NYC and it is essential to safeguard tenants against favorable profiteering. Although James Harmon had mentioned that with 68000 vacant apartments in New York, it really does not make it look like there is a housing shortage yet the justices upheld the Rent Stabilization Law owing to the state’s commitment to provide affordable accommodation for tenants.
Some see the decision of the court as a missed opportunity where landlords could have been favored by striking off an old law however most see it as a blessing that offer relief to millions of tenants.
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