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Landlords challenge NY rent control laws as unconstitutional

The new law signed by Gov. Cuomo violates due process and amounts to illegal taking of private property, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

New York's landlords are fighting the reforms to

New York's landlords are fighting the reforms to the state's rent regulations. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Drew Angerer

Landlord groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of New York’s freshly enacted rent control law.

Landlords said the law — which clamped down on rent hikes and ended a process that, over 25 years, deregulated more than 300,000 units — was overly burdensome and violated due process protections in the Constitution.

They said the law — adopted by the State Legislature and signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in June — amounted to illegal taking of private property.

Landlords also said the law deters landlords from making apartment repairs and improvements, and will worsen the housing shortage and make market-rate apartments even more expensive.

“The law is not constitutional and punishes hard working tenants and small landlords alike. Allowing it to continue to harm New York is no longer acceptable,” Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, said in a statement.

The RSA and another group, Community Housing Improvement Program, filed the lawsuit in the federal Eastern District of New York. It names various state and New York City entities and officials as defendants.

The offices of Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) didn’t comment immediately. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins declined to comment.

When the law passed, Heastie and Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) said it would “give New Yorkers the strongest tenant protections in history. For too long, power has been tilted in favor of landlords and these measures finally restore equity and extends protections to tenants across the state.”

One of the most important changes in the rent law was the end of "vacancy decontrol," a process in which regulated apartments could be deregulated when the old tenants moved out. The provision had been fiercely guarded by Republicans who controlled the state Senate for years and by the real estate industry in every rent-law negotiation for more than two decades.

Democrats seized full control of the legislature in the 2018 elections and promised to focus on ending vacancy decontrol.

Legislative leaders cited the political shift in power in announcing the deal — which arguably marked the biggest loss in Albany for the powerful real estate lobby in decades.

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