Supreme Court Declines To Hear Harmon Rent Control Case

The Supreme Court has declined to hear the challenge to rent control brought by former federal prosecutor James D. Harmon Jr., the owner of a five-story townhouse on West 76th Street.

Mr. Harmon, who grew up in the brownstone and now lives there with his wife Jeanne, inherited the building and its three rent-controlled tenants from his grandfather. Mr. Harmon’s three rent-controlled tenants each pay around $1,000 a month for one-bedroom apartments, about 59 percent below market rate, according to court documents. Three other tenants in the building pay market rents.

Mr. Harmon argued that New York City’s rent laws violate the Constitution by taking his property without just compensation.

This is not the first time Mr. Harmon has challenged rent control laws in the courts, nor is it the first time that his case has been denied. The Supreme Court does not release any statements when it declines to hear a case. However,

Previous denials of Mr. Harmon’s Earlier suits filed by Mr. Harmon sought to remove a rent-controlled tenant so that the Harmons’ college-age granddaughter could live in the unit. Most recently, he took the case to the the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which ruled last September that the rent-stabilization law did not constitute a “taking” and that Mr. Harmon had acquired the property with “full knowledge that it was subject to RSL.”

The case has been widely viewed as having potentially far-reaching implications for the city.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn praised the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I’m pleased that the Supreme Court has refused to hear the case challenging the City’s rent stabilization program. 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,” said Ms. Quinn. “Now, the City’s rent regulation system can proceed unfettered, as we continue to ensure affordable housing is available to New Yorkers.”

kvelsey@observer.com