The Daily Dirt: Supreme Court delivers another blow to landlords

Court rejects two more challenges to New York’s rent law

Now what? 

We have waited months for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether it would take up two challenges to New York’s rent law. 

The court repeatedly conferenced the cases, causing some to speculate that the justices did not see eye to eye, and at the very least, needed time to pen a dissenting opinion. The fact that these two cases were not rejected at the same time as the petition filed by the Rent Stabilization Association and the Community Housing Improvement Program offered some hope they would fare better. 

But on Tuesday, the court denied the petitions for writs of certiorari, and we got a less than 300-word statement — not a dissent — from Justice Clarence Thomas. 

Thomas indicated that the case contained “generalized allegations” and did not show “whether specific New York City regulations prevent petitioners from evicting actual tenants for particular reasons.”

And then he gave landlords a sliver of hope: “However, in an appropriate future case, we should grant certiorari to address this important question,” Thomas wrote. 

Attorney Paul Coppe, who represented landlords in one of the cases, said he was disappointed by the court’s decision but was somewhat heartened that Thomas left the door open to another challenge.

“It is a narrow door, but we will certainly see if we can find a landlord who can walk through it,” he said. 

Of course, inviting a hypothetical future challenge does not guarantee any such case will be considered. The Second Circuit is still deliberating on two other challenges to the state’s rent law. Tuesday’s decision does not exactly bode well for those cases.

The Legal Aid Society’s Ellen Davidson said Thomas’ comments seem to refer to a 2022 decision by the Eighth Circuit, which upheld a challenge to an eviction moratorium in Minnesota during the pandemic.

The appeals court found that a property owner in that case plausibly showed that the moratorium violated the contract and takings clauses in the U.S. Constitution. So a future challenge to New York’s rent law would likely have to square the decisions between the circuit courts, related to whether New York laws prevent landlords from evicting tenants. 

But Davidson thinks Tuesday’s decision makes clear that further challenged the Second Circuit’s ruling on New York’s rent law “is a waste of money.”

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The Community Housing Improvement Program has been pushing a measure that would allow landlords to reset rents in stabilized apartments that are vacated after 10 or more years of continuous occupancy. The apartments would need to be renovated and remain stabilized after the reset. 

Tenant groups have raised the alarm about this bill (which was introduced last year), but Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday seemed to throw cold water on the measure’s prospects.

Rent stabilization laws “remain some of our state’s most powerful tools to fight inequality, preserve affordability, and keep New Yorkers safely housed in their own communities,” Hochul said in a statement. “As governor, I will continue doing everything in my power to ensure these laws are protected.”

What we’re thinking about: What housing-related policies do you think will actually end up in the state budget? Send a note to

A thing we’ve learned: An autopsy only describes the examination of a human corpse. The animal version is called a necropsy, which was coined in the early 1800s. Autopsy derives from autopsia in Latin, meaning “an eye-witnessing, a seeing of oneself,” according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. Necropsy breaks down into “necro,” meaning death, and “opsis,” meaning sight. I read about this in the book “How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures,” by Sabrina Imbler. 

Elsewhere in New York…

— A small plane crash-landed Tuesday on the Southern State Parkway in East Farmingdale, Newsday reports. The plane’s two occupants were taken to a hospital for evaluation, and the cause of the crash is still being investigated.

— By the end of 2026, the MTA will install bright, white lights in all 150,000 of the subway system’s light fixtures, Gothamist reports. These LED bulbs are already used for the city’s streetlights. Replacing the bulbs will cost $21 million, but the agency says the more energy efficient LEDs will save $6 million each year on electricity. 

— Police are investigating how a human leg wound up on a subway track bed between 167th and 170th streets in the Bronx, NBC New York reports. The appendage likely belonged to a man who was struck and killed by a train last week, according to the New York Daily News.

Residential: The priciest residential closing on Tuesday was $9.3 million for a condominium unit at 200 Amsterdam Avenue, Unit 35B on the Upper West Side.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was $14.1 million for an 18-unit apartment building at 269 Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights. 

New to the Market: The priciest home to hit the market on Tuesday was a penthouse unit at 30 East 29th Street in NoMad for $13.25 million. Kiran Mummidichetty of Compass has the listing. 

Breaking Ground: The largest new building filing of the day was a 126,518-square-foot, 14-story building at 1760 Jerome Ave in the Bronx. Urban Architecture Initiatives filed the permit. — Matthew Elo