I was wondering if you could help please.
We have a question with regards to Vaad Bayit. We live in an area where there is a row of houses in the front, a row in the back and in between there is a communal space, that is enclosed at one end, and open at the other – sort of like a מבוי! The communal space is essentially a parking area for the people in the back.
We have a unique situation, where effectively the front houses are owners and the back are all renters, renting from the same owner. The people at the back, derive almost zero benefit from the communal space in the between, some of whom don’t even have access to the communal space. Most of the front owners do have access to the back, but choose not to use it, as they have no need to go back there, they park oon the street, outside their house.
For all intents and purposes, there hasn’t been a vaad up until now, and now we’re starting.
1) Since the front derive virtually no benefit from having a clean chanaya, can they pay a reduced rate? Is it like a lift, where I understand that those who derive the most benefit (the higher up you live) the higher you pay? Or is cleaning considered maintenance and everyone has to pay equally even if you don’t receive any benefit?
2) The amount being asked by the people in the back (renters, backed up by the owner who owns all the buildings) is much higher than the price charged by other similar set ups. The front owners feel aggrieved, as the front derive virtually no benefit, and the back (which is a majority) who does derive benefit is all owned by one person?
3) There is no-one who wants to volunteer to oversee the vaad, so they are proposing to pay 500 Shekel per month for someone to oversee the vaad. I think that is absolutely ridiculous. Can I be forced to pay this amount? Regular maintenance, like cleaning, even if I derive no benefit is one thing. But to be forced to pay a huge amount for someone to oversee it ….. sounds ridiculous to me.
4) One of the renters wanted to get this vaad bayit up and running, so basically called a meeting and told everyone whoever doesn’t pay within 2 weeks then he will go the legal route and the lawyers fees will be a vaad expense and everyone will end up footing the bill. Is this true? If certain people don’t pay, and they incur legal fees in an effort to ensure everyone pays, then does everyone have to pay for these additional legal fees?
Many thanks for your help!
These questions are a little tricky because they depend chiefly on the custom, and it is hard to give clear halachic guidelines. Here are some ideas:
1) The matter of a lift (elevator) is broadly discussed by poskim, and also, lehavdil, by the law of the land. However, concerning cleaning arrangements the general custom is that all pay the same amount even though the cleaning of some areas is more important to some than to others. In this case, have the “area in between” cleaned is at the end of the day to everybody’s benefit – nobody wants to live near a dirty area.
2) The asking price can’t be hiked, even by a majority, when it goes against the general arrangement for similar circumstances. Even a minority can decide that the services and price should be similar to comparable set-ups.
3) If there’s nobody who’s prepared to oversee the matter somebody must be hired. The salary should be similar to similar set-ups.
4) In principle if one person doesn’t pay, and legal expenses are incurred in extracting payment, they the person who didn’t pay is responsible for covering the expenses.
As for the votes, if a person owns six houses he will in principle have the right to six votes, and he can appoint anybody he wants to vote on his behalf. Please see here, however, where we discussed passing “unfair” votes.