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Payment for apartment rental during Corona

Question:

Shalom,

Every year at about Rosh Chodesh Nissan, I go to visit my in-laws who live in South Africa. I personally live in Sanhedria Murchevet. This year, with fear of them closing the airport, I took one of the last flights out on Motzei Purim, 2 weeks earlier then my original ticket. I left having the knowledge that there was a slight chance of me not getting back to Israel before Iyar and even had a small thought that it would be until Elul, but I did not really expect anything past Sivan. I must reiterate that had I not had tickets to go to South Africa for Pesach, I would never have left. Also at the time of me leaving Israel, there were less than 10 corona cases in South Africa.

A week later South Africa went into full lockdown not letting anyone enter or leave the country except those from other countries who leave on emergency flights. Different countries have been making different emergency flights for their students and citizens. The Israeli embassy in South Africa have only been making emergency flights for their citizens making it virtually impossible for me and my family to return. I have a student visa and my wife is a permanent resident. On top of that, even if they made a ticket for students, I would be in two minds as to whether to take it as the price is really high. but in truth, I probably would.

All my belongings are currently in the apartment but I can get them removed if need be. Also, there are tens of apartments up for rent in my area and the possibility of renting out my apartment is very low, especially because it is quite an American area and very few Americans are coming back.

Our lease is over in Elul but we would have considered extending it.

Please will you let me know how much I have to pay and whether I can terminate my contract. If not from the beginning of Nissan because I anyway would not have been there then, at least from Iyar when it was impossible for me to enter Israel. And if not from Iyar since I am only contacting you now then at least for the remaining three months (I have been discussing this with my Baal Dira since the beginning of Iyar). Please also let me know if there is a difference as to whether my belongings are in the apartment.

As far as i know, there is no mention of any of this sorts in my contract.

I do not want to go to Beis Din over this but I did want to see what the Halacha is in order to know whether I should discuss this with my Baal Dira. If the Halacha is that I should pay, then I will, if the Halacha is that I don’t have to, then I hope to make some sort of compromise

Thanks so much

Answer:

The best thing is to speak to the Baal Hadira, and make a pshara with him to pay him at least half. If that doesn’t work, there are different psakiim among the poskim. Some would say that you have to pay the whole thing because you knew before you left that there was a chance that you would get stuck, while others say that you should pay him half. As said, the best thing would be to peacefully negotiate what you will pay with the landlord.

Best wishes

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