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U.S. Supreme Court won’t rule on Queens rent control laws

Housing Advocates rally for the renewal of rent regulations last year. AP Photo/Hans Pennink
TimesLedger Newspapers

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to rule on whether New York’s rent regulation laws are constitutional.

The court had no comment and offered no information on which members voted to consider or not consider the case. Four of the justices on the court grew up in New York City.

It means the laws will continue as they have for more than 40 years.

According to the New York State Department of Housing and Community Renewal, there are more than 144,000 rent-stabilized apartments in Queens and some 5,500 rent-controlled apartments in the borough.

Citywide there are more than 1 million apartments under some form of rent regulations.

The case was brought before the Supreme Court by James and Jeanne Harmon of the Upper Side of Manhattan. They own a brownstone and rent out three apartments in the building. The Harmons complained that the apartments they rent each bring in about $1,000 a month, far below apartments that are not rent-regulated, and contended this was a violation of the Fifth Amendment governing private property rights.

In a statement, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said “the court’s decision is consistent with longstanding precedent that affirms the city and state’s authority to enact these laws, which are an integral part of the city’s effort to provide affordable housing to New Yorkers.”

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-260-4536.

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