I have a rental agreement on an apartment in Ashkelon. This will terminate in one year. The woman renting the apartment has asked me for a reduction in the rental fee for the upcoming month due to the financial setbacks she suffered as a result of the war in Gaza. She describes the hotel costs she incurred because she and her family could not survive the constant sirens and rockets falling close by, and other financial loses. While I would like to give her a break and fulfill the mitzva of Tzedaka during Elul, I fear that due to her current financial difficulties I may jeopardize a year’s rent. What do you advise me to do?
This is a delicate question and depends on the special circumstances.
As you correctly assume, there is no obligation on you to allow the lady to pay less rental money. The unfortunate situation was a “makas medinah” and not a specific problem with your apartment, so that full rental payment remains due.
Of course, you are also right in assuming that it is proper to come to her assistance, and allow her to pay less on account of the situation, if this is possible. If she is needy the reduction can come our of maaser money.
As for the rest of the year, you could speak to her in an open way and inform her that you cannot afford to reduce the rental fee for more than one (of however many you can) month. If she will be unable to continue rental payments, she ought to look for a smaller apartment where she won’t have trouble paying the rent.
I hope everything works out for the best.