Three years ago I signed a five year lease for office space in an office condo building. An integral part of the lease was a purchase option, to be able to purchase the office space at a set price. The purchase option expired after three years. My intention from the beginning was to exercise the purchase option, and that was the reason I entered into the lease willing to pay the high monthly rent.
Before the expiration of the purchase option, I gave notice that I would be exercising the purchase option. I incurred significant costs in preparing for the closing, bank fee for mortgage approval, appraisal fee, legal fees, title search, etc. The landlord is Jewish, although not frum.
Little did I know, because it was never disclosed to me, but the Condo Association for the office building has in its condo documents, a right of first, second and third refusal. Meaning that if any unit in the building is about to be sold, then the immediate neighbor (the Bar Metzra) has the right of first refusal, any owner in the entire building has the right of second refusal, and the Condo Association has the right of third refusal. It turns out that an owner two floors up exercised his right of second refusal, and will be purchasing the unit from under me, and I will be left renting the unit from a new landlord.
My attorney advised me to sue the landlord and the broker who wrote up the lease without disclosing this right of refusal to me, but I chose not to sue.
I believe the new landlord is Jewish, possible even orthodox. The broker is also Jewish, but not frum.
My lawyer further advises me that my current lease is in default, since the purchase option was an integral part of the lease, and due to no fault of my own, it cannot be exercised. Being in default, my attorney tells me that I may be able to walk away from lease before the 5 years are up.
Through my attorney, I have asked the new landlord for two things; a reduction in rent, so that the rent that I will pay will be around what I would have paid had the purchase gone through, and a 90 day out clause, so that I don’t have to stay the remaining two years of the lease. I will need to look for new office space. I do have a 5 year option to extend my lease at the end of the first 5 year period. We have offered to forgo that extension in exchange for the reduction in rent and the 90 day out clause.
My question is how halacha views this lease, the alleged default, and my rights and obligations to the new landlord.
Before I attempt to take a hard line in negotiating my two demands, I would like to know what the halacha is.
Answer from Horav Y. Fleishman Shlit”a.
It depends-if such conditions are frequent in condominiums then he may be perfectly right because your lawyer should have looked into it before renting to begin with.
Also what is their argument why they never told you.
Furthermore if your first landlord was a goy you don’t have to take into account the Torah law because when dealing with a goy if the secular law is better for you , you can take advantage of that fact.