A TENANCY relation may come to an end due to unforeseen circumstances making the premises unsuitable for use for the purpose they were rented, having been destroyed by reason not attributable either to the tenant or the landlord. The cause may be force majeure, fire or any other catastrophic event which frustrates the tenancy agreement. In such a case, the parties are discharged from their respective contractual obligations; the tenant is not entitled to claim from the landlord for repairs to the premises and the landlord cannot claim rent from the tenant. As long as the possession and the use of the premises was lost and reverted to the landlord, the tenant does not have any right and his respective obligation to pay rent ceases.
Frustration is distinguished from unsuitability of the premises due to laden defects, such as a watertight roof or normal wear and tear, constituting a hazard to the life of the occupant or neighbour. In this case, the issue is regulated by the terms of the written tenancy agreement which define the rights and the obligations of the parties. In the absence of such a regulation or of a tenancy agreement and provided the tenancy is statutory, the matter is regulated by the Rent Control Law. The landlord has an obligation to repair and maintain the premises and if he omits to do so, an actionable right is created in favour of the tenant for damages based on the costs for restoring the premises to their previous condition. The only right which the law provides to the statutory tenant is to claim damages for any costs incurred from executing repairs or maintenance to the premises, which should have been executed by the landlord. The tenant, as long as he retains possession of the premises, is not allowed to withhold the payment of the rent or to set off his losses with the rent.