After Supreme Court Declines To Hear Case, Harmons Now Considering Selling Townhouse

harmons After Supreme Court Declines To Hear Case, Harmons Now Considering Selling Townhouse

Coming on the market soon? (Google maps)

James D. Harmon Jr. may have taken his battle against rent control as far as it could legally go, but that doesn’t mean that the owner of the beautiful Upper West Side brownstone has abandoned the fight.

Mr. Harmon is now considering the only sure way to escape the system he despises: selling his house, the New York Post reports.

Mr. Harmon, who grew up in the brownstone and lives in an apartment there with his wife Jeanne, has spent years waging a legal campaign against his three rent-regulated tenants (he also has three market-rate tenants), who pay about $1,000 a month and  have lived in the building since the 1970s, when they signed leases with Mr. Harmon’s grandfather.

The legal fight ended in April, when the Supreme Court declined to hear Mr. Harmon’s case, but not the bills (although Mr. Harmon, a former federal prosecutor, represented himself), and now Mr. Harmon is claiming that he can’t afford to keep his house.

“This was devastating to our family because the house is part of our family. This is the place I grew up, and this is the place my mother died. We should be able to keep this house, but we don’t know if we can continue to do that,” Mr. Harmon told the Post.

The Harmons say that the $1.5 million mortgage that they took out in 2005 to buy Mr. Harmon’s brother’s share, as well as the $58,300-a-year property taxes and $3,000 for water bills are becoming too onerous for them on top of the rent-regulated tenants. Maybe if they had all market rate tenants they could make ends meet.

Besides the bills, some of their neighbors have apparently been giving them dirty looks.

And there are signs that the seething-under-the-surface anger detectable in earlier court filings (ie: “thus imposing on the Harmons the unconstitutional burden of involuntarily sharing their home with tenant strangers whom the Harmons must subsidize for the rest of their lives”) may finally be bubbling up.

“The moral judgment is this: Am I a self-respecting person that would allow a family to use its own home, or am I the kind of person that’s going to leech off of that family for the rest of my life?” Mr. Harmon told the Post.

But alas, even if Mr. Harmon puts the property on the market, he won’t be completely free of the problem. As all rent-regulated tenants do, the three banes of Mr. Harmon’s existence will naturally pass to the property’s next owner, who may be put off by the unbearable burden that Mr. Harmon has so frequently railed against.
So much for no such thing as bad publicity.
kvelsey@observer.com