The Real Deal New York

Upper West Side landlord gets closer to controlling rent control

February 22, 2012 03:00PM

The U.S. Supreme Court’s interest in hearing a Manhattan-based civil case could tweak New York City rent-stabilization laws, NY1 reported.

The case of James Harmon, an Upper West Side landlord who owns a five-story Townhouse On West 76th Street near Central Park, will challenge the constitutionality of these laws as he sees it: of having him subsidize tenants to live in his own home. Harmon told the New York Daily News in December it’s unfair for him to subsidize his long-time tenants when they can afford to pay market rates.

Harmon, who inherited the brownstone from his grandfather in 1949, told the New York Times the same month that he dislikes that the city’s rent-control system relies on luck rather than on need, the New York Times reported. His three rent-stabilized tenants pay $1,000 monthly for their apartments. Upper West Side Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, to whom Harmon appealed for an exception of rent regulations for his brownstone, said she understands Harmon thinks that he can make more money from his tenants. “But I have so many constituents who would willingly trade his problems for theirs,” she told the Times.

“There are flaws, just as there are flaws in every law,” Manhattan Sen. Liz Krueger told NY1. “The bottom line for New York City is absent the continuation of over a million units of affordable housing, we would have a homeless crisis beyond any of our comprehension.”

State courts previously dismissed the case, and last month it seemed unlikely that Harmon would woo the Supreme Court.

Harmon’s challenge requires that both the city and state respond by March 5. The court could hear the case as early as October. [NY1]