I have asked a similar sheila in the past but I would like to re-ask the sheila with more accurate details.
My building was built about twenty years ago. The kablan advertised 3 room & 4 room apartments and a penthouse.
Family R requested to buy the penthouse and the 4 room apartment beneath it, and to have it combined with an internal staircase. This was done; the double apartment has one water clock etc., although it then had a front door on each level, which has recently been blocked up.
For 10+ years family R lived there, and in every va’ad bayit contribution they contributed as two ‘shareholders.’
A few years ago family H bought the apartment and have been continuing va’ad bayit payments as double, although family H is generous and does not see that as a commitment.
There is now a large bill for fixing the elevator and family H wish to know if they are obligated to pay a double share of the elevator repairs or not.
We understand that the size of the apartments is irrelevant.
Family H should pay a double payment.
** Note that this ruling cannot be a binding adjudication, without the prior consent of all parties involved. Additional factors, such as a (clear) local custom, can also influence the ruling.
This question is not at all trivial.
According to certain opinions, family H would pay no more than other neighbors. This is because the original division of the apartments in the building was such that two of the apartments are joined together, so that the initial shutfus (partnership) of homeowners was between nine (say) rather than ten (say) apartments. The costs of vaad bayit are therefore divided into nine, rather than ten parts, with the exception of those costs that are directly proportional to the number of apartments owned (for example, gardening costs would be paid in equal share by each homeowner, including the double apartment; however, the cost of painting the building, for which the external walls of the double apartment are double the surface area of a single apartment, would be split into ten parts, with the double apartment paying two parts). The cost of fixing the elevator would therefore be split into nine parts, and the double apartment would not pay more than the other apartments.
According to other authorities, however, the standard assumption is always that the building is split up into the number of single apartments it has to offer, and somebody who buys two apartments and merges them has to pay two parts. The reasoning behind this is that this is the intended division of people who buy apartments: taken to an extreme, a person buying a single apartment, when the rest of the building is bought by people who merge two apartments (or more) together, will have to pay approximately double the normal rate of vaad bayit. Because people buy apartments with intention of paying normal rates of vaad bayit, it follows that the building is split according to single apartments, and those with double apartments pay doublt.
Our ruling follows the second opinion.
See: Minchas Tzvi, no. 12; Mishpat Tzedek, no. 4; Mishpat Shlomo, no. 9; Yashiv Yitzchak, Choshen Mishpat, no. 9; Sefer Ha-Shtaros Lehalacha U-lemaaseh (quoting from R. Wosner), p. 147.