A group of New York landlords have filed a federal lawsuit to challenge new rent regulations that would cap what they can charge tenants in rent.
The new laws have put a stop to provisions that allowed building owners to deregulate apartments, closed loopholes that let them raise rents and allow other localities with housing shortages to fashion their own regulations.
In the lawsuit, landlords claim that the new laws deprive them of income and go against their constitutional rights.
“The Rent Stabilization Laws, among other things, deprive property owners of a reasonable market return on their investment, devalue their properties, and upset their investment-backed expectations,” wrote lawyer Reginald Goeke, who is representing the building owners and landlords.
The lawsuit alleges that the people who gain the most from the rent rules aren’t cash-strapped, they are rather affluent residents in Manhattan. Therefore, the rent laws can’t be justified on the grounds that the regulations help stabilize rent costs for low-income families.
The suit also claims that the laws encourage tenants to stay in their apartments for a long time, even when they require more space. The rent stabilized units have lower turnover and keep vacancy rates low, so housing costs increase.
Mike McKee, a tenant organizer with TenantsPAC, however, believes that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit don’t have much of a case.
“They have a very weak argument. They have lost in court with this case for almost a hundred years,” McKee said. “These arguments haven’t won again, again and again. It’s not going to win this time either.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James, agrees with McKee’s opposition to the lawsuit.
She said that the tenant protections are “a critical step in reforming the state’s broken rent regulation system — a system that bad-acting landlords have manipulated and controlled for far too long.”
The lawsuit doesn’t ask for monetary damages, but for new rent stabilization laws to be abolished.