Ask Sam: What is the latest on the rent stabilization lawsuits before the U.S. Supreme Court?
- The justices decided against hearing one of these challenges, which argues that rent stabilization law is unconstitutional
- Two other petitions are pending, but given the court’s rejection of the first case, these are unlikely to be heard
- Landlord groups could try again but Sam Himmelstein says, 'Rent stabilization is safe for the foreseeable future'
Douglas Rissing via iStock
Earlier this year, five separate lawsuits challenging rent stabilization in New York state were filed, worrying tenant advocates that the U.S. Supreme Court might choose to hear one or more of them and possibly do away with aspects of the current law.
Last week, there was some relief: The court decided not to hear one of these challenges, which argued that rent stabilization law in New York represents an unconstitutional infringement on landlords' property rights. This means that the decision already handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on this case is binding.
“Landlord groups could try again down the road to challenge rent stabilization, but they would have to come up with a different legal theory in order to do so,” says Sam Himmelstein, an attorney at Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben & Joseph who represents residential and commercial tenants and tenant associations. “Rent stabilization is safe for the foreseeable future,” he says.
There are two other petitions to the Supreme Court that also challenge rent stabilization—and were also ruled against by the Second Circuit Court—which are still pending, but given the court’s rejection of the first case, these are unlikely to be heard.
At this point, the only real possible threat to rent stabilization law would be a significant change to the composition of the New York state legislature, Himmelstein says.
“But it seems to me that New York is on trend to vote Democratic,” he says, which means state representatives are very likely to maintain the tenant protections currently in place.
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Sam Himmelstein, Esq. represents NYC tenants and tenant associations in disputes over evictions, rent increases, rental conversions, rent stabilization law, lease buyouts, and many other issues. He is a partner at Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben & Joseph in Manhattan. To submit a question for this column, click here. To ask about a legal consultation, email Sam or call (212) 349-3000.