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  • Times Herald-Record

    Town of Monroe sued over local law limiting ownership of residential rental properties

    By Mike Randall, Middletown Times Herald- Record,

    2023-08-03

    The town of Monroe is being sued for passing a local law earlier this year that limits the number of residential rental properties a person or entity may own to three.

    The lawsuit was filed July 7 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

    The plaintiffs are identified as limited liability corporations that own approximately two dozen rental properties in the town. Only one individual person, Pamela Lee, is identified by name as a member of those LLCs.

    The plaintiffs have requested a jury trial.

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    According to the complaint, the local law violates both the Fifth and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.

    The plaintiffs allege that the limit of three residential rental properties deprives them of their fundamental property rights without just compensation.

    The lawsuit notes that the 14th Amendment provides that no state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law."

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    The town law does not provide plaintiffs with a fair process to contest the restriction to rental of three residential properties, the complaint alleges. Furthermore, it is "arbitrary and capricious" and lacks "a rational relationship to a legitimate governmental objective," which the complaint claims is in violation of the due process guarantees of the 14th Amendment.

    At the time the town law was enacted, plaintiffs had existing contracts with tenants for three or more properties, the complaint alleges. Therefore, the law is in violation with the contracts clause in the Constitution - Article I, Section 10, Clause I, the complaint says.

    The complaint also alleges that by limiting the number of people who may occupy any one bedroom to two, the town law discriminates against families with children and is in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

    The plaintiffs ask the court to take several actions.

    First, they ask that the court prohibit the town and its agents from enforcing the law.

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    They ask that the court declare the town law unconstitutional and a violation of the Fifth and 14th Amendments and the contracts clause of the Constitution.

    The plaintiffs say they are entitled to just compensation to be determined at trial, but at least $7.26 million, along with an unspecified amount of punitive damages, and attorney's fees., and any further relief that the court deems just and proper.

    Monroe Town Supervisor Anthony Cardone declined to comment on the lawsuit.

    Mike Randall covers breaking news for the Times Herald-Record, Poughkeepsie Journal and The Journal News/lohud. Reach him at mrandall@th-record.com or on Twitter @mikerandall845 .

    This article originally appeared on Times Herald-Record: Town of Monroe sued over local law limiting ownership of residential rental properties

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