We are in a new building and after 6 months they are looking into setting up a vaad bayit and monthly payments.

The complex is divided into 3 separate buildings, and has say 60 apartments in total. About 45 of these are owned by 3 or 4 people with the intention for most of these to sell later, or rent etc. But these owners do not actually live in the apartments.

The problem arises that these 3/4 owners are trying to impose much higher vaad bayit costs than those living in the apartments want to pay. Since there is no fee already established what halachacly can be imposed on those that do not want?

When purchasing apartments a monthly fee was indicated. If a much higher figure if now demanded, does the original indication have any bearing?

In a case of say 1 person will not pay more than 100, most people will pay 400, and the few who own many want to impose 1,000 – how would this be mediated halachacly? 1 can be me’akev? Peshara? Basar Rov?

Answer:

The basic halachah is that decisions on community matters are made by the majority, as the Rosh rules (7:5; cited by the Rema, Choshen Mishpat 163:1).

There is a discussion among halachic authorities as to whether the majority depends on the amount of tax a person pays, or whether each person gets a vote regardless of how much he pays (see Sema 13; Pischei Teshuvah 4; Tzitz Eliezer 2:24 at length).

In the case of a building committee (va’ad bayit), the custom is that each apartment gets one vote, so that decisions will be made by the majority of owners (the 3 or 4 people who own most of the apartments in the complex).

However, the majority does not have a right to decide anything it wants, and even a small minority can object when the majority wishes to enact something that departs from the common custom of the place. For instance, in a standard neighborhood the majority won’t be able to decide that the inner walls of the building should be coated in marble. Because this is far from standard, a minority will be able to claim that it did not join the group with this in mind, and it cannot be forced to lay out the expenses (see 163:1 and Pischei Teshuvah 1).

Furthermore, the Chazon Ish (Bava Basra 4:15) writes that the majority cannot reach a decision that is good for them and bad for the minority.

For both of these reasons, in the case of the question, the minority can therefore object to the majority decision to enact a payment far higher than the standard, and the amount should be set within the standard range for similar buildings in the neighborhood.

Best wishes.

Tags: neighborhood

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