Cisneros v. Alpine Ridge Group, 508 U.S. 10, 11 (1993)

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20

CISNEROS v. ALPINE RIDGE GROUP

Opinion of the Court

suggest material differences between Section 8 and private-market rents.2

Respondents assert that "the automatic adjustment provision was a central provision of the HAP Contracts and that the owners would not have signed contracts that expressly contained the [comparability] provision HUD asks the Court to imply." Brief for Respondents Acacia Village et al. 22. They urge us to eschew any interpretation of the contracts that would allow the displacement of the "automatic" adjustments for which they bargained by a "project-by-project comparability process" that "would leave [project owners] at the mercy of minor HUD officials." Brief for Respondent Alpine Ridge Group 30-31. At bottom, many of respondents' arguments in support of the decision below seem to circle back to their vigorous contention that HUD's comparability studies have been poorly conceived and executed, resulting in faulty and misleading comparisons. But the integrity with which the agency has carried out its comparability studies is an entirely separate matter from its contractual authority to employ such studies at all. Even if it could be demonstrated that HUD's studies have been unreliable, this would in no way suggest that the contract forbids HUD to cap rents based on accurate and fair comparability studies. If respondents have been denied formula-based rent in-2 The Rainier View court also suggested that HUD's own regulations had interpreted the assistance contracts as barring adjustments to contract rents independent of the published factors. The court quoted 24 CFR 888.204 (1987), which states that the agency " 'will consider establishing separate or revised Automatic Annual Adjustment Factors for [a] particular area' " if project owners can demonstrate that application of the formula would result in Section 8 rents substantially below market rents for comparable units. See 848 F. 2d, at 991. Although this regulation is certainly consistent with respondents' view of the contracts, we do not believe that it is inconsistent with our understanding of the contracts' plain language: The regulation acknowledges revision of the adjustment factors as a means of remedying material differences in rents but it does not foreclose corrective adjustments independent of the factors.

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