The New Fair Rental Law in Israel
The housing and rental market in Israel is tough Prices are high and not in proportion to salaries and income. It is especially difficult for low income families, young people and couples who are trying to save and make their way to becoming homeowners. In 2014 statistics showed that 67% of Israelis owned their own home but for the remaining 33% who rent, unscrupulous landlords are a big part of their nightmare.
A long-awaited law setting guidelines for landlord- tenant relations passed a final vote on Monday, 17th July, 2017.
There have been horrendous stories of landlords renting out storerooms, basements, converted balconies and other unthinkable options as dwellings.The new law describes the minimum requirements for a space to be considered a livable and habitable apartment, including that it must have a bathroom separated from the rest of the unit, openings for air and doors and windows to close them, a front door that can be locked, and working sewage, electricity and lighting systems.
If these conditions are not met, the rental contract can be canceled.
All to often we hear stories of landlords who do not attend to leaks, blockages, plumbing problems, electrical issues and other repairs that should be carried out but are never attended to. Renters will have to pay for damage they cause to the property through “unreasonable use,” but owners are responsible for repair of damage caused by “reasonable use,” and must do so within 30 days. Urgent repairs must take place within three days. If they fail to meet that responsibility, renters may deduct the cost of repairs from their rent.
Over the years, there have been stories of frustrated tenants who were forced to move to another dwelling in a better state of repair. This sometimes meant having to pay higher rent, extra moving costs as well as many other inconveniences. For new olim with limited language skills and not familiar with their rights, this experience was a nightmare.
Renters are responsible for utilities, municipal tax (arnona) and day-to-day maintenance. The owner of the property has to pay for anything that increases the value of the property, as well as household insurance.
There will be more control over guarantees a tenant will need to provide. Up till now it was common for landlords to make outrageous demands for guarantees. The law now stipulates that landlords may not demand a guarantee of more three months’ rent. The guarantee money can only be used if rent or other payments the renter owes are not paid on time, if the renter caused damage to the property, or if the renter did not leave the property on time.
The party that hires the realtor will have to pay for it.
If the parties agree for the renter to continue living in the property past the time listed on the contract, either side can end the arrangement with reasonable notice.
The law applies to properties being rented for between three months and 10 years, and does not apply to vacation homes or assisted living facilities.
Sadly, a proposed limit to how much rent can be raised from year to year was not included in the final text of the law.
Before you move into a new dwelling take plenty of photographs - so easy these days with digital cameras and smart phones. Take a photograph of the electricity meter reading as well as the water meter reading. Take pics of furniture, and even the tiles. Photograph appliances that may be included in the rental property and lots of general photographs of the space. If there is some dispute when you move out you cannot be blamed for damage you did not cause. Before you signing your rental contract, checkout out more top tips from seasoned tenants...