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Big debts

Question:

When I was living in Eretz Yisroel I incurred 2 very large debts while I was living under extremely dire circumstances for almost 14 years.
One was falling behind in the rent for a storage machsan, and the second was the electric bill to the vaad habayit for the machsan I was unfortunately living in.
Here I will mention a major complication, that the same person I was renting that storage machsan from, is also the head of the vaad habayit.
Neither debt can be calculated exactly for different reasons.
The rental because for some reason neither of us kept records since we implicitly trusted each other and never imagined the situation would get so out of hand.
There are also no official contracts that I owe him anything at all, just an understanding between us, and also our correspondence in various emails where I have mentioned my repayment plans to him.
He also has expressed doubts as to how much I actually did pay him those first years.
So my final plan was to take upon myself to repay him the entire maximum amount as if I had never paid anything, in order that he should not feel cheated in any way, and whatever is objectively above what I truly owe to him, should be considered tzedaka or a gift, or for hachnosas kallah, etc.
The electric bill because there was no private meter for that machsan and it was calculated by noting the usage from the regular meter, then subtracting the difference from the bill they received from the electric company, and by calculating the kilowatt hours according to the official rates, which had changed over the years.
Nevertheless, it is not possible to be exact, so for both of these debts, I feel I have to add on much more just to be sure.
To date, I have paid back about half my assumed debt for the rental.
However, since there is a very real question here of gezel harabim, I wanted to now try to put together the entire sum for the electric bill.
The question arises if there is a conflict of interest, since, as mentioned, it happens to be the same person, and perhaps he would feel that he has a right to claim what is theoretically owed him for the rent, from that very large sum which I hopefully would send for the electric bill.
I would also like to ask if there is a question here of gezel towards individuals, since all of this took place over a very long period of almost 14 years, and over the years many families moved out, and new ones moved in.
Regarding paying the separate monthly dues for the vaad habayit, the issue was brought up and he related that to me.
This particular machsan where I was living, and paying rent to someone else, was not officially a dwelling, it did not have any water, and was one of numerous similar machsanim built for storage purposes.
My response was that in a previous machsan which was built as a dwelling with a bathroom and a sink outside the bathroom, I had asked a dayan, and he had told me that he did not think I was obligated since this was not an official apartment of the building.
Nevertheless, I said they are welcome to ask the question to a Rov, and if he decides I should pay, then I would abide by that ruling.
In the end, I was never asked to pay the separate monthly dues for the vaad habayit.
Concerning the machsan where I was actually living, all the rent was paid, and up to date, and I have no outstanding debts towards that landlord.

 

Answer:

According to the dayan that I was in consultation with, he agrees with the Rov that you asked. Since you only used the electricity of the machsan, you would not have to pay vaad bayit. The same way the rest of the people don’t pay vaad bayit for the storage of their machsan, because it isn’t a dwelling, you don’t either have to pay vaad bayit. Regarding your using the electricity, the same way that when the people of the building use their machsan and turn on the lights, or even if one of them has a fridge in the machsan, which takes more electricity, we don’t say that he has to pay extra. The reason being because we say that this is the understanding, that the electricity will be divided even if one person will use a little more than the other. The same would be in this case. (If however you used a large amount of electricity, then I am not sure) According to this you wouldn’t have to pay anything to vaad bayit, and you only have a debt to the landlord for the rent.
Best wishes

 

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