Shabbat Parashat Vayakhel| 5764
Distancing Damages - Part X - Zoning Regulations and Overcrowding
Is there a halachic source for zoning laws that prevent turning a single family house into a multi-family house?
The mishna (Bava Batra 59b) forbids one building an attic for his house and creating an entrance to it from the joint courtyard of the neighbors without their permission. The gemara (ibid. 60a) explains that it is because it can cause overcrowding in the courtyard. The Rambam, after bringing this halacha, writes (Sh’cheinim 5:9): “From here we learn that if one of the partners brought to his house people from another household, his friend can prevent him, because he causes overcrowding.” Thus, we seem to have a precedent for zoning laws, which can impinge upon even what one does within his own house. The Ra’avad (ad loc.) takes issue on the Rambam and says that as long as one doesn’t make new entrances from the joint area, there should be no way for one to prevent a neighbor from having as many guests as he likes. The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 154:2) paskens basically like the Rambam, and the Rama (ad loc.) paskens basically like the Ra’avad.
The Shulchan Aruch, based on the Magid Mishneh, understands that the Rambam agrees that one can have as many guests as he likes, as long as they fit into his family unit. He just cannot have entire families living separately under his roof. The Rama agrees that it is problematic to extend physically onto the house in order to make room for another family. There is logic and basis to distinguish between cases when he brings others into his house out of altruism and when he does so in order to receive rent (see Aruch Hashulchan CM 154:1; Mishkan Shalom10:(31)).
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