Upper West Side landlord asks Supremes to end rent controls

“The issue is whether the Constitution allows the government to force someone to take strangers into their home and to subsidize them for the rest of their lives,” James Harmon told the Daily News Wednesday.

Is Mr. Harmon (who is a lawyer) claiming the Third Amendment of our Constitution as his legal cause of action?

Article [III.]

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Um, but wait. His long-time tenants as soldiers? Well, maybe rent-war soldiers.

Harmon is taking his case to the Supreme Court because he’s been turned down by the lower New York State courts. He’s “confident that the Supreme Court will ultimately take the case.”

Given the Maroon Five, a/k/a the bloody Supreme Court majority, he might be right. Of course, if Harmon manages to kick out of his building David Mlotok, who is 73 years old and has been living there since 1976 (currently paying $1,498 a month rent), he’ll be kicking out of the city a potential one million tenants. I think they’ll be joining the 99 percent revolution, wherever it next appears.

And just when I was thinking about writing to the City Council to suggest that they establish some fine-tuned regulations for certain commercial properties, so many of which have been standing empty in the Village for years. As we all know, uncontrolled commercial landlords seem to be content with leaving their storefronts empty, rather than renting them for less than $40,000 a month (that was the last monthly rental price demand I heard of, for a narrow shallow bodega on Bleecker Street). I assume they get tax deductions for causing the Village to look like downtown Baghdad.

I’d very much like to see some particularized rent support and/or limitations for small Village coffee houses (not talking about Starbucks), which started in the Village, are a significant part of its way of life and flourished for years, but are now disappearing fast.



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