National groups fund NY landlords’ suit against rent law

The exact dollar amount the groups will provide was not disclosed

Nov.November 13, 2019 02:02 PM
Five real estate trade associations are providing financial backing to a constitutional lawsuit looking to upend New York’s rent law (Credit: iStock)

Five real estate trade associations are providing financial backing to a constitutional lawsuit looking to upend New York’s rent law (Credit: iStock)

It’s not just New York trade associations fighting back against Albany’s new tenant-friendly rent law.

Five real estate trade groups — National Apartment Association, National Association of Realtors, National Multifamily Housing Council, National Association of Home Builders and New York State Builders Association — are providing financial backing to a lawsuit looking to upend New York’s rent law.

“The whole effort will collectively cost several million dollars,” said Jay Martin, the executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program. “For that, we’ll need ongoing financial support from the industry collectively. This isn’t just another willy nilly, last-ditch effort. We genuinely believe we’re providing a comprehensive conversation at the court level that hasn’t been done before.”

CHIP, along with the Rent Stabilization Association and seven landlords, filed a suit in July alleging that New York’s new rent law violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, which includes a clause that bars taking of private property without “just compensation.” The complaint also alleges that the rent law violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause because the law is “arbitrary and irrational.”

Washington, D.C.-based law firm Mayer Brown is leading the legal effort — which also claims that New York’s rent stabilization law violated the Constitution even before changes were made in June.

Martin has been traveling the country, most recently visiting Oregon and California, to seek industry support for the effort. In September, California passed AB-1482, its own statewide rent control measure.

Community Housing Improvement Program director Jay Martin

Community Housing Improvement Program director Jay Martin

Robert Pinnegar, the president of the National Apartment Association, said in a statement that the organization “is opposed to any regulation or barrier to construction, including rent control, that has a negative effect on housing affordability.” NAA is also the parent organization of the California Apartment Association, whose members led the California effort to counteract a 2018 ballot measure to repeal a statewide ban on rent control.

The five real estate groups will provide “all-encompassing” support for the costly litigation, as well as legal advice and public relations support, according to Martin. The exact dollar amount being contributed was not disclosed.

CHIP and RSA’s lawsuit names New York City, the city’s Rent Guidelines Board, the board’s members and the head of the New York State rent stabilization regulatory agency as defendants.

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