Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Mr. and Mrs. Katz owned an apartment in Israel, which they used mostly during the summer. They did not actively seek to rent it the rest of the year, but would sometimes do so if asked.

A friend of the Katzes, Mr. Bloom, was planning to spend the winter in Israel.


“We’d like to rent your apartment for the duration of the winter,” said Mr. Bloom. “We’ll be in Israel until Shavuos, and it’s hard to find a rental for this time period.”

“Let me consider,” said Mr. Katz. “I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

The following day, Mr. Katz called back and said: “For a friend like you, we’re willing to rent.” The two drafted a rental agreement until after Shavuos.

During winter break, the Katzes decided to visit Israel for a simcha. They asked Mr. Bloom whether they could stay in one of the rooms for the week. Mr. Bloom said it wouldn’t be possible, noting that he’d rented the whole apartment and it would not be comfortable for his family. The incident left a bad taste with Mr. Katz.

When the air conditioner/heater in the apartment broke a month later and needed extensive repair, Mr. Katz and Mr. Bloom got into a volatile argument over who was liable.

The relationship deteriorated further the following month, when the apartment was broken into. The two men were no longer able to talk without fighting.

Mr. Katz sought to evict Mr. Bloom from the apartment. “I only agreed to rent to him on account of the friendship,” he reasoned. “I stated from the beginning, ‘For a friend like you – we’re willing to rent.’ If he’s no longer a friend, the agreement is no longer binding!”

Mr. Katz decided to consult Rabbi Dayan.

“Rama [C.M.312:9] writes that one who rented his house to a friend who later became his foe cannot evict him from his house,” said Rabbi Dayan. “However, if the landlord said from the beginning that he is renting only because he is his friend, he can evict him.”

“It sounds, then, that I can evict Mr. Bloom,” said Mr. Katz.

“The commentaries significantly limit the Rama’s ruling, based on its source,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “The Gemara [B.M. 101b] relates that a man sought storage space for barrels of wine. A certain woman initially declined to rent him space, so he betrothed her, after which she provided him storage space. After housing the wine, he promptly divorced her. The woman had porters move the barrels out to the street. Rav Huna b. Rav Yehoshua upheld her action, commenting that the man deserved it. Furthermore, even if the storage space was for rent, the woman can say she is willing to rent to anyone but him, since he is like a lion waiting in ambush” [C.M. 319:1].

“That’s a wild story,” said Mr. Katz. “What does that mean for us?”

“Ritva [ibid.] and Nimukei Yosef [59a] explain that the woman can claim this only when she refused to rent at first,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “Then, it is evident that she provided storage only because he betrothed her. However, had she agreed to rent beforehand, she cannot remove the barrels. They add, rhetorically: ‘A person who rented a house to a friend for a set time, and afterward there was a fight between them – can he evict him?! Certainly not!’

“The Ketzos [312:3; 319:1] cites Maharik [181] that even where a contract stated l’ahavat hashalom – for the love of peace – which didn’t endure, the landlord cannot cancel the lease, since there was no explicit stipulation. Only in the Gemara’s case, where the woman refused at first and agreed only on account of the betrothal, is there clear indication that suffices. Otherwise, the landlord cannot evict the tenant. Nesivos [312:7] similarly limits the ruling to a case that the house was not for rent, and the landlord indicated at the time of rental that he was willing to rent only on account of the friendship.” (See C.M. 207:3)

Concluded Rabbi Dayan: “Taz [312:9] further qualifies that the renter can only be evicted if he was responsible for the animosity, as in the Gemara’s case. Thus, you do not have sufficient basis in your case to evict Mr. Bloom prematurely.”


Previous articleCalendar Of Events
Next articleBoldly Going Where No Israeli Has Gone Before
Rabbi Meir Orlian is a faculty member of the Business Halacha Institute, headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, a noted dayan. To receive BHI’s free newsletter, Business Weekly, send an e-mail to [email protected]. For questions regarding business halacha issues, or to bring a BHI lecturer to your business or shul, call the confidential hotline at 877-845-8455 or e-mail [email protected].