Tenant Groups Seek to Join Lawsuit Challenging Rent Regulations

The Legal Aid Society and Legal Services NYC recently asked a federal judge for approval to file a motion to intervene in the rent-law case, which was filed earlier this year by landlords' groups, the Rent Stabilization Association and the Community Housing Improvement Program. The organizations hope to eventually file for the case's dismissal. The request was filed on behalf of Tenants and Neighbors and Community Voices Heard, two advocacy groups.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in July by the two landlord groups along with a collection of individual building owners. The lawsuit argues that New York’s rent-control reform passed in June, which curtailed rent increases in regulated apartments and made it virtually impossible for landlords to remove units from regulation, violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of property owners. By forcing landlords to charge regulated rents, the plaintiffs assert, the government took private property for public use without compensating property owners.

Reiterating arguments made by the city and state, Tenants & Neighbors and Community Voices Heard noted that the owners' complaint didn’t include any allegation that a plaintiff or a member of the industry trade groups involved had lost a specific sum due to the application of the rent stabilization laws. Owners purchased property with the knowledge it was subject to the laws, and decades of precedent shows the limitations don’t amount to an unconstitutional "taking" of private property, according to the legal memo drafted by The Legal Aid Society and Legal Services NYC, which are representing the tenant groups.