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Shabbat Parashat Va'eira| 5768

P'ninat Mishpat


An Abrupt End to a Rental

(based on Halacha Psuka, vol. 37 - condensation of a p’sak by Beit Din Gazit, Beit Shemesh)


Case: The plaintiff (=pl) rented an apartment to the defendant (=def). During the first year, there was a clear rental contract. For the second year, it was originally orally agreed that the rental would end in August, and this was later extended until October, with the possibility of extending it past then. Now def wants to extend it until February but pl informed def on Oct. 25th that he wants him out by the month’s end. Def claims that since pl failed to set a date, it is like the case of an open-ended rental, in regard to which one is not allowed to expel a tenant during the rainy season.


Ruling: We will start with def’s assumption, that this was an open-ended rental, about which the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 312:5) says that it can be ended with 30 days notice but even then not in between Sukkot and Pesach. However, this ruling does not apply in our case for several reasons. The reason for this halacha, that it is difficult to find a home during this season (see S’ma ad loc.:67), does not apply in the city that the apartment in question is located. Secondly, since the two already agreed on an exit date of October, def evidently agreed to find a home during that season. Even the 30 day warning does not seem to apply since the arrangement had been that they would decide after Sukkot (Oct. 7th that year), and since the rental could have ended as soon as the end of October, he agreed to 24 days notice. At the very most, def could have 30 days from the time he was told to leave, which comes out to Nov. 25th.

In truth, though, this case is one of a set rental until the end of October. In such a case, as soon as the time comes to an end, the renter can be asked to leave without any further warning (Shulchan Aruch ibid.:8). It is true that the possibility of extending the time past October was discussed, but since nothing was agreed upon beyond that, that is considered the final date. Furthermore, pl denies agreeing to extend the rental and in such matters the landlord benefits from the doubt (ibid.:16).

Despite the analysis above, beit din decided to make a compromise on the matter for the following reasons. Although pl claims to have never committed to extending the rental, he admits to having agreed to discuss the matter, a discussion which never transpired. Secondly, at the time of the case before beit din, def was serving in army reserve duty, a time when one cannot effectively look for a new apartment. In a similar case, the Maharil (67) suggested extending the time of the rental. Since pl agreed to extend the rental for a week and he does bear some responsibility for that which transpired, the renter is given until November 17th to move out.




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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of

R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld


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