- Question: [Tuesday, 19th Adar 2, 5782]
I have a vacation rental home which I rent out throughout the year and would like to know if there’s any issue with me renting it to a non–religious Jew during Pesach, being that he very likely will enter Chametz into the room. Is there any difference in this regard if he rents it for the entire Pesach versus if he only does so for a few days and will leave in middle of Pesach?
It is permitted for you to rent the room to the non-religious Jew [or a gentile] even if he will enter Chametz into it, so long as he does not explicitly tell you that he is renting it for the sake of storing Chametz inside the room. After the renter leaves, whether during or after Pesach, you should enter it and perform Bedikas Chametz. Any Chametz that is found is to be destroyed through burning or flushing down the toilet.
There are two general issues that need to be clarified when renting a property to someone who will enter Chametz into it on Pesach, the first is the issue of benefiting from Chametz which is biblically forbidden, and the second is the issue of having Chametz in one’s property. When renting to a non-religious Jew versus a Gentile, there is a third issue that is raised, and that is the issue of Lifnei Iver. We will discuss all three issues below:
1) The issue of benefit: We find the following ruling in Shulchan Aruch regarding renting a property to a gentile during Pesach: It is permitted to rent a donkey [i.e. car] or room to a gentile even if one knows that the gentile will enter Chametz into the room or car and eat it while there. The reason for this is because the entering and eating of the Chametz is not the purpose of the rental, and hence one is not making money from the fact the gentile can eat Chametz there. This, however, is with exception to a case where the gentile explicitly told the Jew of his intent to use it for Chametz, in which case it is forbidden during Pesach [or on Erev Pesach, even before the 5th hour] to rent a donkey [i.e. car] or room to a gentile for the sake of him transporting, or storing his Chametz there. The reason for this is because it is forbidden to make money from an item that is forbidden in benefit. This, however, is only forbidden if the gentile states that this is the purpose of his rental, otherwise, it is permitted to rent it to him, even if one knows this to be his intended use. The reason for this is because as long as the gentile did not make clear the purpose of his rental, the Jew would receive payment regardless of what he uses it for, and hence he makes no money from the fact that he specifically used it to store Chametz. Furthermore, before Erev Pesach, it is permitted to rent a car or room to a gentile for the duration of Pesach, even if the gentile explicitly states his intent to use it for Chametz storage or transportation. It is permitted to lend a car to a gentile on Pesach even if one knows that his intent of borrowing it is to transport Chametz.
Now, regarding a non-religious Jew, the same law should apply, that it would be absolutely forbidden to agree to rent him a room on Erev Pesach or onwards in order to store his Chametz, due to the benefit prohibition. However, if he does not explicitly state that he is renting the room in order to store his Chametz there, then there is no benefit prohibition.
2) The issue of ownership and having Chametz in one’s property: It is a clear ruling in the Poskim that one cannot be forced to acquire something against his will, even if it was entered into his property, and one’s property only acquires an item that is placed there as Hefker, if he desires to acquire it and it is a benefit to him. Certainly, a Jew does not desire to acquire Chametz during Pesach, and hence even if someone enters Chametz into one’s property during Pesach, the owner of the property does not transgress anything. Nonetheless, one is required to get rid of the Chametz from his property, due to a rabbinical decree that was made due to worry that one may come to eat it. However, this only applies to property that one owns and contains access to. Thus, there is no obligation to get rid of the tenants Chametz that is found in his rental property as the access to that property is now the sole right of the renter throughout the duration of the rental and the owner no longer has rights of access to it. Accordingly, there is no obligation for the landlord to make sure that his renter does not enter or store Chametz into the rented property, as even if he leaves leftover Chametz in the property after he leaves in middle of Pesach, he will not transgress owning it. Nonetheless, one would be required to clean it from the Chametz once the nonreligious Jew leaves the property as we will explain below.
3) The issue of Lifnei Iver: The law is that if one contains the Chametz of another Jew in his property before Pesach then he must destroy it or sell it before Pesach, in order to prevent a Jew from transgressing the law. Accordingly, it would seem that it would be forbidden for one to allow a non-religious Jew to enter Chametz into one’s property that one rented to him, both due to his obligation to destroy it, and perhaps due to Lifnei Iver. However, in truth one can argue that neither of these issues truly apply by a rental property, as the sages never obligated a Jew to enter his non-religious neighbors home in order to forcibly get rid of his neighbor’s Chametz, and the above law only applies if the nonreligious Jews Chametz is in one’s own property. Now, since only the tenant has the right of access of a rental property and not the landlord, therefore the landlord does not have any obligation to get rid of such Chametz, just as he does not have an obligation to enter his neighbor’s house and destroy his Chametz. Likewise, for several reasons there is also no issue of Lifnei Iver, such as a) One does not know for certain that the property will be used for Chametz b) the ownership of the Chametz by the non-religious Jew and the rental of the property have no connection to each other, as the non-religious will regardless transgress the prohibition as soon as he buys it irrelevant of the fact that he rented the property. c) the purpose of the rental is not for the storing of the Chametz, and if he does decide to do so that’s his own decision. This follows the same allowance [for even greater reasons] brought in Poskim regarding renting a property to a non-religious Jew who will be Michalel Shabbos there.
Performing Bedikas and Biur Chametz to any leftover Chametz: Although one does not transgress the owning prohibition on another Jew’s Chametz, it is forbidden for one to have Chametz that belongs to another Jew remain in one’s home on Pesach even if one has no liability over the Chametz, unless that Jew performed Mechiras Chametz. The reason that one must destroy his friends Chametz is in order so his friend not transgress Baal Yimatzei, as all Jews are cosigners/guarantors for [the fulfillment of Mitzvos of] all other Jews. Accordingly, although we cannot force or request from the landlord to access his rental property during the term of rental and get rid of the renter’s Chametz as explained above, once the contract is up and the renter returns the property to the owner, certainly the owner should check it for any leftover Chametz and destroy it. This applies whether during or even after Pesach, as even after Pesach it is forbidden to benefit from Chametz owned by a Jew during Pesach, and it must be destroyed. In this regard, it is different than the Chametz of a gentile, which may be eaten after pesach, although, one must get rid of it from his property during Pesach. Another difference regarding if the renter is a Jew or Gentile is regarding if one may touch the Chametz when taking it out of one’s property during Pesach, and if one must destroy the Chametz. If the Chametz is owned by a Jew, then it must be destroyed in order so the Jew does not transgress Baal Yiraeh, or after Pesach so no one comes to benefit from it, and accordingly, it is permitted even on Pesach for one to actually touch the Chametz for the sake of destroying it. However, if it is owned by a Gentile, such as one had a Gentile renter, then the leftover Chametz does not need to be destroyed, and hence when getting rid of it during Pesach one may not use his hands to do so, and is to rather use his feet or a broom to sweep it out of his property.
The issue of liability: All the above assumes that the landlord does not contain any legal liability for stolen food goods from the rental property, even due to negligence of the landlord [i.e. broken locks] as is normally the case. If, however, it would be true that the landlord has legal liability for items stolen from the rental property [even if only in a case of negligence], including food items such as an expensive whisky, then indeed it would be forbidden for him to rent it to either a Jew or gentile, unless he makes sure to remove such liability from Chametz items or makes sure they do not enter Chametz into the property. The reason for this is because it is forbidden to have liability over Chametz during Pesach even if one does not own it.
Sources: See regarding the issue of benefit from Chametz when renting a property to a gentile during Pesach: Admur 450:9; Rama 450:5 See regarding that Chametz that was entered into ones property on Pesach against one’s will is not considered acquired to him: Admur 448:3 “However, if the Jew does not tell the gentile to place it in a private place and the like, then even if the gentile does place the Chametz down in his property, his property does not acquire it for him, as he probably does not want to own the Chametz, being that it is forbidden or him to own it, and being that he does not want to own it, his property cannot act as an emissary to acquire it for him, as one cannot become an emissary to acquire something for someone else against that persons will.”; 450:21 in parentheses “Although the gentile entered the Chametz into the Jews property, nonetheless, his property does not acquire it for him, as a person’s property does not acquire him an item that he does not want, such as Chametz on Pesach.” See also Admur Kuntrus Achron 436:3; See regarding the need to get rid of a gentiles Chametz that was entered into one’s property during Pesach: Admur 440:3, 5 and 448:5 regarding storage; Admur 448:3-4 regarding a gift; Admur 446:7 “One may not take the Chametz with his hands to return it to the roof of the Gentile, [but rather] is to use a stick to push it into the Gentiles roof, or into a public area.” See regarding the need to destroy the Chametz of another Jew that was left in one’s property: Admur 443:6; See also Admur 436:3; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 437:1; Siddur Pesach Kihilchaso 12:8; See regarding that Lifnei Iver does not apply when renting a home to a non-religious Jew: Mahrsham 2:184; Mahrshag 2:102; Arugas Habosem 54; Igros Moshe Y.D. 1:72; 2:66; Minchas Shlomo 1:35-5 and Tinyana 100:1; Yabia Omer O.C. 2:15; Milameid Lehoil O.C. 1:38; Seridei Eish 2:19 Piskeiy Teshuvos 243:7; See regarding the prohibition of having liability over Chametz: Admur 440:1 and 9-17