Stronger Than Ever: New York’s Rent Stabilization System Survives Another Legal Challenge

By Charles K. Gehnrich

The fate of New York’s rent stabilization laws (RSL) directly concerns millions of New York City residents who take shelter in the protection of the RSL from the hardships and unfair business practices that accompany an unregulated housing market during a housing crisis. After the New York State Legislature made these tenant protections stronger than ever before in 2019, affected landlords responded by petitioning the courts to dismantle the entire rent regulation regime. A federal district court in the Eastern District of New York rejected the landlords’ broad constitutional challenge in Community Housing Improvement Project v. City of New York, but landlords have vowed to continue the legal fight, leaving the RSL in a state of limbo.

This Note analyzes pressing arguments landlords have made in their challenges to the RSL and the district court’s reasons for rejecting them. Specifically, this Note addresses the claims that the amended RSL, on its face, effectuates a regulatory taking of property and constitutes a violation of due process. This Note argues that the district court’s decision in Community Housing Improvement Project was correct and must be upheld in subsequent appeals. However, this Note also addresses potential legal and policy issues raised by the 2019 RSL and suggests amendments aimed at better ensuring landlords a reasonable return on investment and more efficiently directing the RSL’s protections toward those who truly need them.