The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, U.S. Const. amend. V, provides: Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. Most cases interpreting the clause fall within two distinct classes. Where the government authorizes a physical occupation of property (or actually takes title), the Takings Clause generally requires compensation. But where the government merely regulates the use of property, compensation is required only if considerations such as the purpose of the regulation or the extent to which it deprives the owner of the economic use of the property suggest that the regulation has unfairly singled out the property owner to bear a burden that should be borne by the public as a whole. The first category of cases requires courts to apply a clear rule; the second necessarily entails complex factual assessments of the purposes and economic effects of government actions.
The mobile home park owners challenged the city's mobile home rent control ordinance in state court. They alleged that the ordinance, read in conjunction with California's Mobilehome Residency Law, Cal. Civ. Code Ann. § 798, amounted to a physical occupation of their property. The effect of the two laws was to transfer wealth from the park owners to incumbent mobile home owners, who could command premium prices when they sold their mobile homes. The Third and Ninth Circuits had held that similar ordinances effected unconstitutional physical takings. The California trial and appellate courts held that the city's ordinance did not. The California Supreme Court denied review.
Does the imposition of rent control and regulation of the relationship of between landlord and tenant amount to taking of property?
The Court held that because the ordinance did not compel the park owners to suffer the physical occupation of their property, it did not effect a per se, physical taking. The park owners had voluntarily rented their land to mobile home owners and were not compelled to continue doing so. The Court refused to consider the park owners' arguments that the ordinance denied them substantive due process, because it was not argued below, and that the ordinance constituted a regulatory taking, because it was not the precise question on which the Court granted certiorari.