The U.S. Supreme Court this month declined to hear appeals of two cases challenging the constitutionality of rent control and eviction restrictions, cases that had garnered support from the California Apartment Association through amicus briefs.

In the first case, 74 Pinehurst, LLC v. New York, the plaintiffs challenged New York’s complex rent control and eviction regulation scheme, arguing that it effectively converted private property into public housing. The case had been closely watched ever since the court declined to hear the appeal of its companion case last autumn.  The court has kept property owners in suspense as it considered the case at 12 conferences before today’s announcement not to hear the appeal.

In an uncommon move, Justice Clarence Thomas issued a written statement with the 74 Pinehurst denial indicating that while “[t]he constitutionality of regimes like New York City’s is an important and pressing question,” he did not think the specific allegations in the underlying case were sufficiently developed to present an appropriate case to decide the issue. Justice Thomas’ acknowledgment hints at a willingness to explore such constitutional questions in future cases, offering a small silver lining to the day’s otherwise disappointing news.

On the other hand, the court gave no indication of its reasons for rejecting the appeal in El Papel v. City of Seattle. That case challenged the eviction moratoria imposed in Seattle and the State of Washington. In stark contrast to the 74 Pinehurst matter, and as is more common, the El Papel case’s fate was decided at the first conference where it was considered.

“Of course, it is disappointing that the court has declined to hear these two cases, but I take some solace in Justice Thomas’ acknowledgment that strict rent control and eviction regimes do in fact pose a constitutional question that is of interest to the court.” said Whitney Prout, CAA’s executive vice president of legal affairs. “Now it’s up to us to make sure the right case makes it way to the justices.”

The court’s rejection of these cases upholds the status quo, allowing state and local governments to retain broad constitutional authority to enact and enforce rent and eviction control laws. This outcome underscores the importance of defending existing safeguards, outside the Constitution, for rental housing providers. These protections include the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a California law that exempts newly constructed apartments, single-family homes, and condominiums from local rent control and ensures that for regulated units rents can still be reset to market upon turnover – as well as the Ellis Act, and court precedent that limits local governments’ ability to interfere in the eviction process. These protections have all come under attack in recent years, with CAA leading efforts in the Legislature and at city hall, at the ballot box, and in the court to protect rental housing providers.