Rabbi Meir Orlean
Aharon and Akiva had shared an apartment for a number of years.
“Mazel tov!” Aharon announced. “I just got engaged! I’ll be leaving the apartment in two months.”
“What about our lease?” asked Akiva. “We have half a year left. I can’t cover the rent myself for the remainder of the year.”
“I’ll get someone else in my place,” said Aharon. “The lease allows subletting with the landlord’s approval.”
Two weeks later, Aharon informed Akiva: “I found someone to replace me.”
“Who?” asked Akiva. “Someone I know?”
“Ariel,” replied Aharon. “You might know him.”
“Ariel!” exclaimed Aharon. “He’s a neat freak. I can’t live with him; he’ll drive me crazy!”
“I already got the landlord’s approval,” said Aharon. “He was very happy to have a neat tenant in his apartment.”
“But I don’t agree!” insisted Akiva. “We rented the apartment together. I agreed to be your apartment mate, but you can’t impose Ariel on me!”
“If you don’t want Ariel, you can keep the apartment on your own, or find your own apartment mate,” said Aharon. “I fulfilled my responsibility by finding someone else to replace me, so I don’t have any further liability for the rent.”
“That’s not true,” argued Akiva. “You can’t force on me someone I don’t agree to, and you remain liable for your half of the rent until you have a suitable replacement!”
“I think he is suitable,” replied Aharon. “You can’t bind me to the rent at your whim.”
“It’s not a whim,” said Akiva. “I once tried rooming with Ariel and it didn’t work out well. You can’t force him on me.”
The two came to Rabbi Dayan. “Aharon is leaving our shared apartment, and wants Ariel to replace him,” said Akiva. “Can I object to Ariel and require Aharon to pay rent until he has a satisfactory replacement?”
“Akiva has a rightful claim,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “Shulchan Aruch rules that Aharon cannot sublet his half of the apartment to someone against Akiva’s will” (C.M. 316:2).
“Why is that?” asked Aharon.
“This is because people are typically particular about whom they live with,” replied Rabbi Dayan.
“Could you please elaborate?” asked Akiva. “What is this based on?”
“The Rosh writes in his responsum (1:2), regarding partners who rented a dwelling unit, that one cannot sublet his half to a third party whom the other partner objects to,” explained Rabbi Dayan. “People are particular about whom they are willing to live with, so the remaining partner can claim that he agreed to live with the initial partner, but not with the third party. This can be either because of the importance or lowness of the third party, or because he may be a person of strife or untrustworthy.”
“Is this ruling accepted by all?” asked Aharon.
“Rosh points to the case of a shipper addressed in the Gemara (B.M. 79b),” added Rabbi Dayan. “According to Rav Chananel’s explanation, cited in Tosafos, the owner of the cargo sold it midway to another. Although the shipper has a rightful complaint about the change of ownership, he has no legal claim, since he suffers no economic loss, which could apply here, too. Nonetheless, Rosh differentiates between a shipper who rents to a wide variety of people and does not have a personal relationship with them, and partners in a dwelling.”
“Darchei Moshe (C.M. 316:2-3) and Gra (316:8), however, note that Rambam (Hil. Sechirus 5:5) seemingly equates the shipper case with real-estate rental, against Rosh, who differentiates between them,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “Nonetheless, Darchei Moshe concludes that Rambam does not argue with Rosh, since it is common for cargo to change owners. Furthermore, shipping is only for a short duration, and the relationship is not one of partners” (Pischei Choshen, Sechirus 4:10).
“Thus,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “Aharon cannot transfer his half to someone unacceptable to Akiva.”