Fixing damages to property responsibility of owner
Fatwa No: 348742

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I need a quick fatwa, please. Basically, my cousin and I partnered up in a joint venture in Syria before the war. We purchased the machinery and the whole setup 50/50 and decided to install everything in a warehouse that he already owned. We had not agreed for him to add rental fees. After a year, however, I realised that he had added rental fees, so I confronted him and reminded him that a fews years back, I had also given him a warehouse for him to use for approximately five years, and he consequently removed the rent fee. Mid 2012, we ceased operations because the fighting in Syria had gotten closer to our business location. At some point in 2013, after it had calmed down, we decided to start operations again. However, a lot of maintance work had to be done, which we split 50/50. Just before we managed to get going again, the fighting again began to get come closes, and we were never able to reoperate as planned. A few weeks or months after, the factory was hit by an air-to-surface missile which damaged the building, the electrical supply post, and part of the machinery. In 2016, we decided to close our accounts for the partnership and sell part of the machinary. At the end of 2016, I received a bill from him for costs for the damaged roof and the electricity infrastructure. I questioned the liablity of his claim and made him aware that as he was the owner of the land and the building, he would be liable, and that I was only liable to fix any damages to the machinary. He refused my claims and has since deducted the money from my accounts, which he handles. Can you please tell me what the Shariah law says about this, as I have always known that it is not permitted to sell your 'calamity' in Islam?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The company (the joint venture) has nothing to do with the building and its infrastructure, such as electricity and other things.

Therefore, your partner has no right to hold you accountable for those damages that happened to the building, even if the building was rented to the company, because repairing a property is the responsibility of the property owner.

Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “…a real-estate property belongs to the lessor, and he is responsible for spending on it.

Moreover, Al-Kasaani said in Badaai' As-Sanaai’, “The maintenance of the house and repairing its gutter and anything that is part of its structure is the responsibility of the landlord and not the tenant, because the house belongs to him, and repairing the property is upon its owner.

Allah knows best.

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