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Affixing Mezuzot in a Short-Term Rental

What is the status of a rented home vis-à-vis the obligation of Mezuza?

If one rents the residence for no specified period of time, then he is not required to affix Mezuzot until he has lived in the residence for thirty days. At that point, he must affix the Mezuzot with a Beracha. If he chooses to place Mezuzot within the first thirty days of living in the residence, then he does not recite a Beracha, in light of the debate that exists concerning the renter’s obligation within the first thirty days. In such a case, the renter is not required to remove the Mezuzot and then reaffix them after thirty days had passed. This is the ruling of Hacham Ovadia Yosef.

However, as noted by the Ben Ish Hai (Rabbi Yosef Haim of Baghdad, 1833-1909), this applies only if the contract did not specify the duration of the rental agreement. If it was agreed from the outset that the tenant would rent the apartment for a period of thirty or more days, then the tenant must affix Mezuzot on all the doorframes immediately when he moves in. In light of the different opinions that exist, he should not recite a Beracha when affixing the Mezuzot.

This Halacha is very relevant to those who rent vacation homes for the summer. If one signs a rental contract for thirty days or longer, then he is required to affix Mezuzot on all the doorframes in the home immediately when he moves in. It makes no difference whether he rents the residence from a Jew or gentile. Since from the outset he is given access to the residence for a period of thirty days, he must affix Mezuzot right away, though without reciting a Beracha. Generally, people who rent a summer residence do so for the entire season, for 2-3 months. In such cases, they must ensure to affix Mezuzot right when they move in to the residence.

It should be noted that this entire discussion relates to a rented summer home. If one purchases a summer home, he must affix Mezuzot immediately, with a Beracha.

Summary: If a person rents a residence and from the outset he rents it for a period of thirty days or more, he must affix Mezuzot on all the doorframes of the home, though without a Beracha. If a person rents a residence without specifying a time-period, then he is required to affix Mezuzot only once he lived in the residence for thirty days, at which point he must affix the Mezuzot without reciting a Beracha.