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Shabbat Parashat Vayikra| 5767
The Authority of the Va’ad Bayit (Residents’ Council) to Levy Charges - Based on Halacha Psuka 5 - Condensation of Piskei Din of the Rabbanut of Yerushalayim - vol. III, pp. 47-50
Case: The defendant has not paid the fee set by the va’ad bayit (residents’ council) for the joint expenses of the apartment building’s operations for several months. He also has not paid for the special payment decided upon to finance two one-time projects. The two projects are the tarring of the roof and the legal costs of suing one of the building’s tenants for expanding his apartment at the expense of the joint property of the building without receiving permission from all of its residents. The defendant refuses to pay because some of the decisions were made at the end of a meeting when not all residents were present. He also does not feel there is justification to help finance the legal proceedings against one of the residents, which he views as pointless.
Ruling: As a rule, all decisions of a properly appointed va’ad bayit have the standing of the decisions of zayin tuvei ha’ir. Zayin tuvei ha’ir is a Talmudic concept which refers to the leaders of a city. We find in various sources, including Shut Harashba (III, 183), that they have the authority to levy payments for expenses. Beit din determines that the status of a va’ad bayit, even though it is smaller in scope, is qualitatively equivalent to zayin tuvei ha’ir. The Rashbash (573) says that individuals cannot refuse to pay the fees levied with the claim that they disagree with the council’s decisions. It is unlike the case of a simple agent whom one appoints, where one can claim that he only appointed the agent to see to matters in a manner with which he agrees.
Therefore, in this case, since the general meeting of the apartment owners authorized the va’ad bayit to make decisions on the matters at hand, no individual has a right to avoid payment.
However, in regard to the fees of a lawyer to adjudicate the matter of a resident’s allegedly unauthorized expansion, the matter is different. In this case, the lawyer is suing in secular court without attempting to adjudicate the matter before a beit din, as halacha likely requires. Therefore, beit din refrains from obligating the defendant to pay that part of the va’ad bayit fees in order not to aid in the improper steps that are being taken. Rather, the va’ad bayit should arrange to bring the owner who expanded his property to beit din, in which case the defendant in our case will have to share in the expenses.
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