You may have already read a recent post on this blog, "Radio Interview: The Costs of Renting in Israel - From a View of a Minister of the Knesset." We saw how the rental situation in Israel is currently out of control. In short, there are no laws to keep rental costs in any kind of balance. Landlords are given permission to charge what they like - when they like. The tenant is warned in the strongest of terms "caveat emptor" - or "let the buyer beware!" In our case - let the renter beware. A Minister of the Knesset - Minister Hilik Bar spoke out in the strongest of terms regarding the desperate situation renters find themselves in with prices what they are - and that even for someone like himself, he could see no way of buying an apartment for himself given the massive amounts of money needed to even make a start - to one's start!
Recently another Minister of the Knesset, Stav Sapir - came out as well in the strongest of terms regarding the "Wild West" situation of the rental situation in Israel. This time, it's not only the awful situation of costs that are involved, but the fact that landlords are practically given permission to treat their tenants in any way they wish. Indeed, renting an apartment without proper running water, electricity and various other dangers(!) can be the norm. As pointed out on www.jersualemonline.com, "...hundreds and thousands of Israelis and (sic) forced to live in apartments that are missing even the most basic of accommodations." The situation is indeed desperate, and more needs to be done to ensure that there is a measure of honesty from the landlord who is actually being paid by his tenant for the right to have a normal in-working-condition apartment.
Famous other problems - never to be attended to by the landlord - include wide open areas allowing doves to fly into the home, build nests and breed a new family, exposing of electric wires (an actual life threatening situation!,) unleveled floors (another opening for an accident,) allowing neighbours to build "at the expense" of the landlord's tenants who must forgo use of parts of their apartment during building, broken shutters (a building fault, not just needing a change of strap,) not allowing tenants to hang their own paintings on the walls, non-working radiators or yunkers (established as part of the contract), rental of broken, old furniture indicating the apartment as rented with furniture(!) It is clear, landlords have a monopoly. The tenant has no choice but to sign a contract which gives the landlord full rights to treat his tenant as he wishes. His only other option is to sleep on the street if he finds that living in an apartment without proper windows(!) air(!) water(!) or electricity(!) is not to his liking! Very often landlords will even go so far as to claim that they will indeed attend to the many needs in the apartment - as soon as the contract (Chozeh) is signed, yet you can bet your bottom dollar - that the next day he will have already forgotten his conditions. Writing them down is of course an insult to the landlord who wonders why you cannot simply trust him!
For those living in (normal) homes overseas, almost all have no idea of the circumstances forced upon tenants living in Israel to live in. They cannot believe this is true, often claiming that the law is the law and one may certainly take a landlord to court (at the cost of the tenant who already lacks money!) and have the courts straighten matters. There is a certain ignorance among those living overseas, and I am glad to see the issue finally coming out a lot more in the open in a variety of news sites.
It seems that because there are indeed Ministers of the Knesset themselves affected by these problems, that they are coming out into the open a lot more now and it is vital that the public educate themselves to the reality of the practical oppression to those unable to afford their own homes. Buying in Israel today has become a virtual impossibility for the minimum wage - average - labourer. That being the case, it is vital that proper laws protect the tenant - and more importantly that the public become educated to support the case for honesty in all matters related to rental and rental conditions. Remember - it may well be that you could find yourself in this same situation one day. Better to support the case for honesty in rental today - than to find yourself one day up against it when you may be the one in need!
For a more authoritative view on the problems of the "wild west", see the news in the jerusalemonline.com, "New Law to Protect Renters of Apartments from Draconian Conditions." What a superb word to describe the horror!