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October 06, 1985|DOUGLAS RING and BUSTER SUSSMAN | Ring is a partner in the law firm of Howard, Mund, Chizever & Ring; Sussman is a free-lance writer. and

It you want to keep your eyes on rent control, watch the U.S. Supreme Court case, Fisher vs. the City of Berkeley.

How the court decides this case can affect rent control laws in Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Santa Monica, as well as throughout the United States.

A few years ago, the Supreme Court said cities have to comply with federal anti-trust laws. These laws prevent people from unfairly trying to control prices.

Since then, a group of landlords sued to break Berkeley's rent control law. They argued that since the whole idea of rent control is to control prices, it was against the law.

The California Supreme Court heard the case but decided that rent control laws were OK. The California court explained that the right to control rents, when it fulfilled a social need, is one of the city's inherent powers.

The landlords didn't agree with the California court, and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case. The court can decide to take a case or not.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided to take the case. Now we must wait and see what kind of decision the court will make. The fact that the court took the case, may indicate that it might disagree with the California court. This is because the U.S. Supreme Court is conservative while the California Supreme Court is quite liberal.

Watch for this decision. It's important to everyone who owns or rents property--and that's about everyone.

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