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Yee v. City of Escondidio

    Brief Fact Summary. An ordinance on mobile home parks limited the amount of rent that could be charged, and owners of parks claim the ordinance is a physical occupation of their property.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. When a landlord decides to rent his land to tenants, the government may place regulations on the rent the landowner can charge without automatically having to pay compensation.

    Facts. John and Irene Yee (Petitioners) own a mobile home park in the city of Escondido. The city adopted a rent control ordinance, which set rents back to 1986 levels, and prohibits increases without the approval of the city council. Park owners may apply to the Council for rent increases at any time, and the Council must approve any increases it determines to be just, fair and reasonable. Petitioners contend that the ordinance amounts to a physical occupation of their property entitling them to compensation.

    Issue. Does a rent control regulation on a mobile home park amount to a taking?

    Held. No.
    The government affects a physical taking only where it requires the landowner to submit to the physical occupation of his land.
    The ordinance requires no such thing. Petitioners voluntarily rented their land to mobile home owners. Neither the city nor the state compelled Petitioners to continue renting their property to tenants. No government has required any physical invasion of property. Petitioners’ tenants were invited by them, not forced upon them by the government.
    The ordinance here merely regulates Petitioners’ use of their land by regulating the relationship between landlord and tenant. When a landlord decides to rent his land to tenants, the government may place ceilings on the rents the landowner can charge, or require the landowner to accept tenants he does not like, without automatically having to pay compensation.
    Because they voluntarily open their property to occupation by others, Petitioners cannot assert a per se right to compensation based on their inability to exclude particular individuals. A regulation of use of property does not amount to a per se taking.

    Discussion. When the government merely regulates the use of property, compensation will usually not be required, unless the regulation has unfairly singled out the property owner.


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