NYC Rent Control in Action: Cheap City Apartment, Second Home Near the Long Island Shore

Late last year, New York City property owner and landlord James Harmon asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of New York’s rent control and rent stabilization laws, arguing that the government’s actions deprive him of his property without providing just compensation as required by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Court hasn’t decided yet on whether or not it will take the case, though the justices have asked New York to respond to Harmon’s request that the case be heard. As we wait on the Supreme Court’s next move, reporter Jacob Gershman of The Wall Street Journal offers a closer look at the comfortable living arrangements that one of Harmon’s rent-stabilized tenants currently enjoys:

One of those tenants is Nancy Wing Lombardi, an executive recruiter who pays about $1,000 a month and has lived in her one-bedroom unit since 1976....

She is a vice president at Manhattan-based WTW Associates, a boutique executive search firm, and owns a second home near the shore in Southampton, where she spends weekends gardening and playing tennis.

The apartment next-door to Ms. Lombardi's isn't rent-regulated and goes for $2,650 a month.

"Contrary to popular myth, the rent stabilization law is not targeted to help the needy," the Harmons said in their Supreme Court petition. "The Harmons effectively have been financing the approximately $1,500 monthly mortgage payments on the Long Island home of one of their rent stabilized tenants."

Read the whole Wall Street Journal story here. For more on the legal issues surrounding rent control laws, see here. For more on Harmon's case, check out the video below.

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  • ||

    Damon you missed the money quote in the article.

    Andrew Scherer, a Columbia University scholar and landlord-tenant expert who supports the regulations, called it "an imperfect system." But he added: "Unless we're going to replace it with something that directly addresses the enormous need for affordable housing, we have to live with it and make the best of it."

    Sure it is imperfect. But what about the children?


  • Joe M||

    People have a right to live in downtown New York City!

  • Sparky||

    Fuck that, even that rent controlled unit costs more per month than my home mortgage.

  • ||

    Not all of us want to live down the road from cousin Jim and his fried squirrel eatery.

  • ||

    Don't knock cousin Jim's squirrel until you have had it. It is free range organic.

  • Joe M||

    Indeed. That $1000/mo rent-controlled apartment is twice my mortgage.

  • ||

    something that directly addresses the enormous need for affordable housing

    You mean, like the free market?

    I know. That's just crazy talk. The free market only builds condos for the rich, which of course has nothing to do with arbitrary and capricious land use/zoning regulations and tenant protection laws (NY is the worst).

  • ||

    No one would ever build houses for people with little money. And if they did, they would be tacky and undesirable anyway. Seriously, don't you think rent control is better than (gasp) trailer parks?

  • ||

    People living in trailer parks don't expect laws to give them rents that are less than half what their neighbors pay. The government has too muh power because citizens want it that way.

  • Rhywun||

    "Unless we're going to replace it with something that directly addresses the enormous need for affordable housing..."

    I thought that's what "projects" were for.

  • Lewis H||

    A rent control article, must be Monday

  • peterpaul||

    an absolutely indefensible system..
    but i'm sure plenty of limousine libs will defend it to their graves

  • romulus augustus||

    I would love to see the Court rule that stuff like this is a "taking for the public good" that requires compensation. All government entities would then be given pause to regulate and zone property. All the nimbys telling the county not to permit a convenience store be built where it is currently permitted to be built could be told to shut up or take up a collection to pay the landowner.

  • Edwin||

    it is indeed possible that rent control laws do go too far as to be in violation of the 5th. Usually typical regulations don't do that, regardless of what libertarians may claim, however, a cap on rents, given enough time, can not only completely devalue a property, but turn it into a burden

    on the note about rent control not being about helping the poor: ever heard the theory that it's designed to kick out the poor, by driving development towards more expensive apartments? Rent control doesn't kick in ABOVE a certain rent (or something like that), and so NYC has been gentrifying all over the place - look at Brooklyn. And that that iswas meant as a way to reduce crime. And hey, maybe it worked, NYC has become amazingly safe.

    Anyway, a simpler solution would be for NYC to adopt NJ's COAH style system, and the various stuff towns do to comply with it.

  • ||

    Anyway, a simpler solution would be for NYC to adopt NJ's COAH style system, and the various stuff towns do to comply with it repeal rent control, full stop.

  • ||

    the only response to this is "duh!". All price controls are a form of government theft. The end.

  • ||

    Back in the '90s Spy magazine uncovered the best example. IIRC, it was a three-story brownstone in a nice part of town rented by some descendent of the Rothschilds, and because it had been under rent control continuously since WWII, the rent was about $100/month.

  • ||

    Hey papayasf! What about the apartments
    Where the rents are in the thousands$$$$
    monthly. I guess they should be lowered!

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