The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution declares that private property shall not be taken “for public use without just compensation.” Eminent domain is the classic example of such a government taking, but what about rent control? Do rent control laws also count as a public use that requires the payment of just compensation to affected property owners? New York City landlord James D. Harmon Jr. thinks so, and as The New York Times reports, he’s attempting to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court:
The regulations are meant to support the government’s goal of maintaining affordable housing for its citizens. Instead, [Harmon] says, the laws have forced him and his family to shoulder the government’s burden and extend what is essentially “privatized welfare” to rent-stabilized tenants who are paying rent 59 percent below market rates and who have rights of succession to their lodgings in his house.
As the story goes on to say, this is an “uphill battle” for Harmon. That's putting it mildly. The Supreme Court’s Takings Clause jurisprudence is notoriously unfriendly to property owners. But the Court did ask New York City and state to respond to Harmon’s request that the case be heard, when the justices could have just rejected the case outright, as they do with the majority of the petitions that come their way. So maybe rent control will be getting its day in court.