From the older areas to ones more recently populated by the frum community, residents have had to deal with homes that are owned by frum people who rent them out to individuals that ruin the quality of life and general equilibrium of the neighborhood. Aside from the obvious issues that affect the immediate neighborhood, such as loud music, general unsightliness, and sometimes unlawful behavior, more serious issues that affect the community at large abound, as well. Crimes committed by those who reside in such homes affect everybody throughout town. Indeed, the crime rate of Lakewood is higher than the national average.
While the owners would never consider placing such tenants next door to their own homes, they don’t think twice before placing them next to someone else’s home.
Rabbanim receive daily calls about these homes, with neighbors voicing their growing frustration at the intolerable situation, seeking to find out what they can demand. In response, the rashei yeshivos and rabbanim in town, together with Rav Dovid Feinstein and Rav Shlomo Miller, have issued a directive to these owners, apprising them of the appropriate course of action to take.
The directive states as follows:
“Many individuals have purchased homes in areas that over the years have been built up until the majority of the neighborhood has been converted to a Yiddishe shechunah. Yet these owners continue to rent out their units to unsavory individuals, and by doing so, cause damage and pain to the entire neighborhood in ways which need not be elaborated. Others have done worse, by purchasing units in areas that they know are quickly becoming an attractive location for b’nei Torah families or even in areas that have already been firmly established as such. These opportunistic latecomers are certainly the direct cause of damage and unjustified hardship for the entire neighborhood, both physically and spiritually.
“In many situations it is halachically incumbent upon these owners to promptly remove their obstacle from the public. Even in cases where perhaps there isn’t a clear halachic enforceable mandate, nevertheless, ein ruach chachamim nocheh heimenu. Regarding situations such as these, the Gemara states that Yerushalayim was destroyed because people insisted on not going beyond the enforceable letter of the law.
“Such people should fear placing themselves in the category of mazikei ha’rabim and should be wary of shouldering the awesome responsibility of such actions. It is well known that one who, G-d forbid, brings pain to others causes the midas ha’din to take hold. How can he remain indifferent in face of the pain he’s causing others? Even Yom Kippur won’t atone until he appeases the one who was wronged! Certainly among b’nei Torah there is an added element of chillul Hashem involved. It is clear that no blessings can rest upon ventures of this nature.
“Therefore, anybody who owns such dwellings should promptly rid themselves of these investments, even in a situation involving a loss. In the interim, they are obligated to demand from their tenants to live up to neighborhood standards. Anyone with the ability to influence these owners in any way possible should do so and fulfill a mitzvah of zikui ha’rabim in this pressing matter. Certainly, one should seek to be counted amongst the mezakei ha’rabim rather than be amongst those who place fear and pain on the tzibur.