256 U.S. 170 (1921), 731, Marcus Brown Holding Co., Inc. v. Feldman

Docket Nº:No. 731
Citation:256 U.S. 170, 41 S.Ct. 465, 65 L.Ed. 877
Party Name:Marcus Brown Holding Co., Inc. v. Feldman
Case Date:April 18, 1921
Court:United States Supreme Court

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256 U.S. 170 (1921)

41 S.Ct. 465, 65 L.Ed. 877

Marcus Brown Holding Co., Inc.



No. 731

United States Supreme Court

April 18, 1921

Argued March 3, 7, 1921




1. In view of the emergency declared by the legislature and found by the district court in this case and in like cases by the highest court of the state, the New York laws enacted on September 27, 1920, to be in effect only until November 1, 1922, and regulating rights and remedies in respect of real property occupied for dwelling purposes in and about the City of New York, do not exceed the police power of the state in requiring that only reasonable rents shall be exacted or in denying the right to maintain actions to recover possession except upon the grounds that the occupant is holding over and is objectionable, or that the owner of record, being a natural person, seeks in good faith to recover for immediate occupancy by himself and family as a dwelling, or that the action is to recover possession for the purpose of demolishing the building with intention to construct a new one. P. 198. Block v. Hirsh, ante, 135.

2. Held that such regulation, as applied in favor of tenants holding over under an expired lease in disregard of their covenant to surrender, did

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not deprive the landlord of rights under the Fourteenth Amendment or the Contract Clause of the Constitution, although the lease was executed before and expired soon after the date of the legislation and the landlord, before the enactment, had entered into a new lease with a third party to go into effect shortly after the expiration of the old one. P. 198.

3. The legislation does not unduly discriminate in not including cities of less than a specified population, or buildings occupied otherwise than for dwelling purposes, or buildings in course of construction. P. 198.

4. Chapter 951 of the Laws of New York of 1920, insofar as it makes it a misdemeanor for the owner of an apartment house, or his agents, etc., willfully and intentionally to fail to furnish to the tenant of an apartment such water, heat, light, elevator, telephone, or other service as may be required by the terms of the lease and necessary to the proper and customary use of the building, cannot be said to impose involuntary service in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment. P. 199.

269 F. 306 affirmed.

This was a direct appeal, under § 266 of the Judicial Code, from a decree of the district court in a suit brought by the owner of an apartment house in New York City for the purpose of ousting certain holding-over tenants through a mandatory injunction, and of restraining the District Attorney of the County of New York from taking criminal proceedings against the plaintiff or its agents for failure to furnish water, heat, light, elevator, and other service. The defendants relied on recent legislation of New York, referred to in the opinion, * regulating the

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tights and remedies of landlords and tenants in New York City and vicinity -- which the plaintiff assailed as unconstitutional. The district court sustained the legislation as it applied to the case, and dismissed the bill. See 269 F. 306. The facts are given in the opinion, post, 196.

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HOLMES, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a bill in equity brought by the Marcus Brown Holding Company, the appellant, owner of a large apartment house in the City of New York, against the tenants of an apartment in the house and the District Attorney of the County of New York. The tenants are holding over after their lease has expired, which it did on September 30, 1920, claiming the right to do so under cc. 942 and 947 of the Laws of New York of 1920. The object of the bill is to have these and other connected laws declared unconstitutional. The district attorney is joined in order to prevent his enforcing by criminal proceedings cc. 131 and 951 of the acts of the same year, which make it a misdemeanor for the lessor or any agent

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