For donations Click Here

Furniture in Rented Apartment

I rented the apartment I am currently staying in with it’s furnishings. We were shown the apartment and it’s furnishings before we moved in, but were not told of some of the slight drawbacks of the furniture. When we moved in we noticed that some of the dining room chairs were a bit shaky. That is to say, there are two bolts that hold the wooden chair legs to the base of the seat, some of which continuously come loose despite repetitive tightening. One particular chair’s leg had a slight split in the wood running from where the bolt fits into it and downward about an inch. We noticed this and placed it aside not wanting to sit on it, lest we break it. Unfortunately it was sat on and it’s leg completely cracked, the wood breaking in half. I was thinking that it may be misa machmas m’lacha, but on the other hand, we did notice the split in the wood so maybe it is p’shiya. Yet on the other hand we were never told of the condition of the chairs, and were never mkabel shmira on such chairs. Are we chayav or patur?


It is probable that there is an obligation to pay for the damage. However, it is possible that the socher (tenant) is exempt from liability.

Sources: Somebody who rents a furnished apartment is a socher with regard to the furniture. If you would not have found out about the damaged chair before it was broken, you would have been exempt because sitting on it is considered meisa machmas melachah. However, because you knew about the flaw before the damaged occurred, the exemption of meisa machmas melachah cannot apply: according to Ramban, the reasoning of the exemption is that the owner was negligent, meaning that the owner’s negligence led to the damage (Ritva B.M. 97), which cannot be applied when the renter knew about the flaw and was negligent. According to Rashba, the reasoning is that a person lends his items for them to be used — but again, this cannot apply when the renter knows that they are damaged.
However, there is room to suggest that you never became a socher with regard to the broken chairs, because they were not fit for use, and the agreement to rent a furnished apartment only means to include items of furniture fit for use. If there was not acceptance of shemirah, there would be no obligation to pay. However, if the chair can be used for seating young children, for instance, then the rental might still apply to it, even if it cannot be used for seating adults. [It is possible that even with respect to items that are not included in the sechirus, the socher nonetheless becomes a shomer sachar, because he knows that such items will be included in the apartment. However, this might not apply to a broken chair, which forms an obstruction and ought not to be there.]

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *