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New York’s rent stabilization laws will stand after Supreme Court declines to hear challenges

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) — The Supreme Court declined Tuesday to hear challenges to New York’s rent stabilization laws, which impose strict rules on how landlords can lease some units in the Empire State.

This means the New York rent laws will stand.

The pair of cases were brought by owners of apartment buildings or individual units that are subject to the laws. The challengers had asked the justices to overturn the rent regime that has governed more than one million units in the city for decades and provided some of the nation’s most tenant-friendly rules.

Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas said the high court should consider the questions that were raised in this appeal in a future case.

One group of petitioners told the justices that the 1969 law and its related regulations “amount to the most onerous rent control provisions the United States has ever seen” and that they lead to “an unconstitutional taking without just compensation.”

As they currently stand, the rent stabilization laws, or RSL, apply to buildings containing six or more units that were built before 1974. The regulations limit how much a landlord can charge in rent and how much they can raise their rates each year. They also make it difficult for landlords to refuse to renew leases, grant tenants the ability to make family members their successors to the use of the property and make it harder for landlords to convert rental units into condominiums.

“These provisions, when combined with the RSL’s ceiling on the rents that landlords can collect, have ensured that Petitioners cannot earn a just and reasonable rate of return,” attorneys for the landlords told the justices in court papers. “The RSL has dramatically reduced the economic value of Petitioners’ property beyond any reasonable expectation.”

Lower courts ruled against the landlords, who had argued that the RSL violated the US Constitution’s Takings Clause and Due Process Clause.

Lawyers for the city told the justices that the RSL “has formed a key part of the fabric of New York City for more than five decades” and argued that the law shields “tenants from dislocation and limits the disruption to communities that would result from dramatic changes in rental rates and rapid turnover of tenants.”

“There is no reason to grant review on any of petitioners’ questions, as none identifies issues of national importance or splits in authority requiring this Court’s intervention,” they told the justices in court papers in one of the cases. “Petitioners’ case would needlessly disrupt the residential rental market, and countless lives, throughout the City.”

Earlier this term, the justices declined to take up a similar challenge to the rules that was brought by a pair of associations whose members include owners of apartments subject to the rules, as well as a few individual apartment owners.

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