Shabbat Parashat Bo| 5768
Ending Rental Due to Extenuating Circumstances
(based on Halacha Psuka, vol. 37 – condensation of a p’sak of Beit Din Gazit, Tzefat)
Case: The plaintiff (=pl) rented an apartment to the defendant (def) for a year. After the rental period was completed, def stayed on in the apartment and paid on a monthly basis until August, when he left because of Katyusha bombardment of the city. Pl is making a claim on the ending of the rental, which he says should have been extended for a full second year, as the first rental period was for a year. Def says he was justified in leaving the apartment when he did.
Ruling: The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 312:14) rules: “In a place where they have a set “new year” for rentals and Reuven rented a home from Shimon for a year and, after that time, continued on without any further discussion after the year and now Reuven wants to end the rental and Shimon wants to stop him, the law is like Shimon.” From a responsum of the Rosh upon which this is based one can see that the reason that the landlord may claim that the rental was extended for another year is the fact that there is a “new year” for rentals. Therefore, in other cases, continuing to occupy the home is just like an unspecified rental, which can be terminated by the renter or the landlord with 30 days’ notice. This is the analysis of the Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. 24) as well. Therefore def does not have to pay for rental past September.
Based on what we have seen, it is possible to claim that def was not allowed to leave the apartment suddenly (without paying beyond that point) as he should have given 30 days’ notice. However, beit din determined that that is not correct in this case for two reasons.
Firstly, the reason for the notice is that it allows the other side to find an alternate solution during that time. In this case, since the apartment was in a war zone, pl would anyway not have been able to find a renter at that time. Therefore, the lack of notice was not a factor for which pl deserves compensation.
Secondly, the Shulchan Aruch (ibid.:11) rules that if the landlord’s home collapses, he can require the renter to vacate his home because it is illogical that the homeowner would have to be in the street while a simple renter enjoys his property. However, this is only when the rental period is not set, as when it is set, the renter’s rights during that time are more absolute. In other words, in open-period rentals, the requirement of notice is not absolute, when there is a compelling factor, such as the need of the landlord for the apartment. Likewise, since def was compelled to leave the apartment without notice, the lack of notice should not bind him to the weak commitment to continue until the time of the notice is complete. Therefore, def need not pay beyond the time that he demanded to end the rental agreement.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
Hemdat Yamim is endowed by Les & Ethel Sutker of
Max and Mary Sutker
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.
May their memory be a blessing.