The Constitutionality of Rent Control
posted by Gerard Magliocca
There is a cert petition pending before the Supreme Court that attacks the constitutionality of New York City’s rent control policy as a taking under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The theory, I gather, is that tenants in some apartments have an option to renew their lease every few years and get to designate who gets to take over the lease if they choose not to, which amounts to a permanent “occupation” of the landowners apartment at a below-market rate. On its face, it sounds like a good vehicle for a ruling on the issue.
I recall a long time ago looking for cases that raised Third Amendment claims, and the most interesting one I found was a challenge to rent control back in the 1940s where the building owner tried to argue that “quartering” should be understood to include more than just soldiers. This does raise the question of whether the Third Amendment is about limiting the presence of the military in our lives or constitutes a special kind of constitutional taking–forcing somebody to live in our property that we don’t want there. Third Amendment scholars–awake!