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.
Surprise! The rent is going up again next year.
In a move that surprised no one, the Rent Guidelines Board cast a preliminary vote to allow rent increases between 1.75 and 4 percent for one-year leases and 3.5 to 6.75 percent for two-year leases, reports The New York Times.
The ranges will be narrowed to a single percent increase when the board takes its final vote on June 21. Last year the board approved a 3.75 percent increase for a one-year lease and a 7.25 percent increase for a two-year lease.
Yet more good news for tenants living in rent-regulated apartments! Rents will will still be going up, of course—don’t be crazy, the rent always goes up—but this year could see the lowest hike in a decade.
The Rent Guidelines Board has set one of the benchmarks used to determine rent increases—the rise in landlords’ operating costs—at 2.8 percent, The New York Post reports.
The city’s archaic system of rent regulation may be in need of rethinking, but it is just as well that the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear a legal challenge to the system. The issue is contentious enough without the distinguished justices getting involved and possibly imposing a top-down solution.
That’s pretty much the full story at this point. “The court has not granted or denied that case yet,” a Supreme Court public information officer just informed The Observer. Such announcements are made every Monday, and so New York will be on the edge of its rent-regulated seats for another seven days. Check back then to see if landlords citywide will finally have their day in court. The Supreme Court has until June to decide whether or not it will hear the case—a waiting game worse than the TKTS booth.
Forget sweet nothings and exclusive party invitations. The two words most New Yorkers long to hear are “rent controlled.” But like so many (impossible?) dreams, this, too, may soon be dead.
The Supreme Court could decide today whether or not to hear a case 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. He argues that New York City’s rent laws violate the Constitution by taking his property without just compensation.
The three tenants with rent control pay approximately $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.
“For 50 years my family has been subsidizing the lifestyles of tenants,” Mr. Harmon, who is 68, told the Observer on Friday. He and his wife were both getting older, Mr. Harmon said, and cannot afford to do it anymore. “If there is a problem here, then society as a whole should bear the burden.”
Even with a Supreme Court battle looming in the background, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg didn’t hesitate to sign a City Council bill extending New York’s Rent Stabilization Law through April 2015.
“In order to extend the Rent Stabilization Law, the City must determine that a housing emergency exists to merit the need for rent stabilization,” Bloomberg said in a release about the bill’s passage, citing the city’s vacancy rate of 3.12 percent to declare the requisite emergency.
Can you feel it? The wave of schadenfreude rippling through the dowdy real estate brokerages and glass-faced, wood-paneled developers’ suites of the city? Look no further than the comments on industry organ The Real Deal. The news that Jimmy McMillan might be evicted from a rent-controlled apartment in the East Village has shocked and delighted the real estate community. His landlord has taken him to court, but the evidence against him is littered across the Internet.
As the partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan credited with essentially designing the law firm’s real estate practice, Leonard Boxer has worked with the city’s largest real estate owners and developers. As REBNY’s general counsel, meanwhile, the 72-year-old attorney has been advising the group in the rent-regulation debate. Last week Mr. Boxer spoke about Read More
Now that Governor Cuomo is throwing his weight behind strengthening rent regulation in the state–after a seeming term of ambivalence–the Rent Stabilization Association is out with a new batch of ads explaining how rent regs, at least under the current legislation, only benefit wealthy Manhattanites. Azi over at our sister site PolitickerNY Read More