Shabbat Parashat Emor 5772
P'ninat Mishpat: An Aggressive Landlord – part I(condensed from Hemdat Mishpat, rulings of the Eretz Hemdah-Gazit Rabbinical Courts)
Case: The defendants (=def) rented an apartment from the plaintiff (=pl) as they were preparing for aliya, signing a two-year contract (via fax) and paying two months rent weeks before they were to come. The contract required them to give a security deposit “upon their arrival in
Ruling: Land rental is finalized by money, a document, or usage of the land (Bava Metzia 99a). All of the elements were present in a manner that obligates def, even if def did not sign the contract.
The gemara (Kiddushin 26a) discusses ayil v’nafik azuzei as a reason to disallow the validity of a kinyan in the context of one who bought a field and, from the outset, the seller came repeatedly to ask for the money and was rebuffed. Rashi explains the logic: the seller displays that he sold the land only because he was in immediate need for the money, and if it is not immediately available, the rationale for the sale falls. If the seller can back out, so can the buyer. However, this does not apply in our case for a few reasons.
First, the money that pl was anxious about was not the price of the apartment or its rent but a security deposit. The money for the initial months of rental was paid immediately. Secondly, we find poskim discussing ayil v’nafik a’zuzei only in regard to sale and not in regard to rental, and there is logic to distinguish. The logic of the concept is that we see that the only reason the seller is willing to part with his land was that he was in immediate need of cash. However, regarding rental, the landlord is not parting with his property but is using it in the manner one uses extra land.
There is also a question in the poskim whether ayil v’nafik azuzei can be said in regard to a delayed payment. The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 190:15) says that the dayan should decide if it appears that the seller was under pressure to receive the money. Furthermore, according to the law of the land, the contract is binding irrespective of these issues. For several reasons, then, the agreement is binding.
[We will discuss next time whether pl’s behavior justifies the cessation of the agreement.]
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