Beit Midrash

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based on ruling 80047 of the Eretz Hemdah-Gazit Rabbinical Courts

A Commercial Rental for a Closed Business – part II


Beit Din Eretz Hemda - Gazit

Shvat 1 5782
Case: The defendant (=def), a money changing business, rented a unit from the plaintiff (=pl) on 1.2.17 for 2,900 NIS a month for 5 years, with exit points every six months with three months notification. In Dec. 2019, def closed the business and stopped paying rent. Pl demands rent until the next exit point along with arnona (30.6.20): 20,300 + 2,025 NIS, and that def leave the unit painted. Def responds that he stopped paying rent because pl did not provide a receipt valid for purposes of VAT, as required by their contract. For the 101,500 NIS of rent he paid, def lost 14,747 NIS of VAT exemptions, which pl should pay or should be subtracted from any rent due. Also, the contract allowed to bring a renter in his place, and another money changer had agreed to pay 5,500 NIS to buy def’s furniture, take def’s place (for which def had paid the previous tenant 20,000 NIS), and rent the unit, but pl scared him off. Pl responds that the rental was legally recognized, and he reported payments to the tax authority at year’s end; he does not need to give a receipt. Pl said that he allowed the potential tenant, but only after def would pay the rent due.

Ruling: Last time we saw that in regards to the basic contractual obligations, pl was justified in his claims.

Regarding the claim of not receiving a proper receipt, we note that during the three years of actual rental, def did not request such receipts. To introduce the complaint retroactively after closing the business is a disingenuous attempt to get out of paying, as it seems clear that def was mochel any such rights. On the other hand, the contract does say that pl should provide such receipts, and there is a machloket whether mechila works on an obligation written in a contract. However, the accepted opinion is that mechila does work (Rama, CM 241:2; Taz, CM 12:8; Aruch Hashulchan, CM 241:3). Furthermore, those with pl’s business status (osek patur) do not produce VAT-related receipts, and therefore the request is moot. (There is a discussion of whether if pl were to blame, def could seize payment due to indirect damage they caused.) Although pl could have given some receipt, def could have arranged the tax exemption without them. Finally, since def closed the business without profits, there were no profits on which to pay taxes for which the receipts could have helped.

Regarding the painting of the unit, although it is common for tenants to have to do so, if the landlord demands that it should be done, it should be written in the contract. In this case, it was not, and so def is not obligated.

During the time under def’s obligation, the Coronavirus pandemic broke out and caused businesses to be closed.
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