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Shabbat Parashat Eikev| 5767

P'ninat Mishpat

A Landlord Who Refuses to Accept Alternative Renters - Based on Halacha Psuka - vol. 12 - A Condensation of a Psak by the Beit Din of Sederot
Case: The plaintiff rented an apartment to the defendant for a period of a year. After three months, the defendant decided that he did not have the resources to pay and left the apartment. The apartment remained unoccupied for two months. The rental contract says that the renter may not leave unless he finds an alternative renter. The defendant found two potential renters but neither of them was acceptable to the landlord. One was not willing to give postdated checks in advance. The other one is a secular Jew who lives with a girlfriend. Since the plaintiff lives nearby, he claimed to be concerned about the negative educational impact this would have on his young children. The defendant counters that he also did not give postdated checks in advance yet was acceptable to the landlord and that the second potential renter observes Shabbat and said that he would not be having his girlfriend living in the apartment.  
Ruling: The renter is not able to unilaterally back out of the rental agreement and exempt himself from paying the rent for the full period. The reason is as the Rashba (Shut 1028) rules that a rental is like a purchase of the property for a certain amount of time. This is even clearer in our case, in which the contract states explicitly that the renter would have to pay for the entire period even if he would leave in the middle.
 The simple reading of the rental contract states that renter has to find a renter who meets the approval of the landlord in order to extricate himself from his obligation to pay. However the fundamental halacha is that a renter may sublet a rented home to another tenant without the permission of the landlord unless it causes there to be more dwellers than before. Therefore, we can assume that the renter accepted the landlord’s right to not accept someone in his stead only if there are reasonable grounds for the objection.
 Regarding the first potential renter, who is unwilling to give checks in advance, this is a reasonable objection. Even though the landlord allowed the defendant to rent without giving checks in advance, one is allowed to relinquish his rights in one case and not in another. Regarding the second renter, one who is not a “kipah-wearer” and has a live-in girl friend does not have to be trusted that he will live in the apartment by himself. Therefore, the objection based on the grounds that the tenant will raise educational issues in relation to the plaintiff’s children is a reasonable one. [Ed. note- the plaintiff is not required to have objections that beit din would agree to if they were in his situation; rather they must be objections with reasonable logic, not arbitrary ones.]
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.
Hemdat Yamim is also dedicated by Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
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