Have you heard of "Ghost Apartments". Can it be possible that a small country which requires every house / apartment to be available for families to inhabit can actually stand empty? Our friend Raphi Bloch explains this strange phenomenon in his article below.
One of the phenomenon relatively unique to Jerusalem is the “empty apartment” or as the Israelis call it, the “ghost apartment”. This is a property which stands empty for most of the year and is used by its owners only on Jewish holidays or during the holiday season. There are a large number of these properties in the city and even complete residential complexes which are totally uninhabited during the off-season.
The advantages to the owners of not renting out their apartments when not in use include absolute flexibility in setting dates for personal visits and the comfort of knowing that your vacation home will be as you left it when you return. The flip side of the coin is that these homes continue to be liable for municipal taxes, building maintenance and various other expenses which are normally covered by the tenant if the apartment were to be rented out.
From the point of view of the government and the municipality these apartments provide another potential source of rental housing in a city where the demand for rentals far exceeds the supply. To encourage owners to enter the rental market a number of new laws have already passed the committee stage in the Knesset , the major one being that apartments that stand empty for the majority of the year will be subject to double municipal taxes. This will make leaving an apartment empty an expensive exercise.
Despite this there will still be many owners who feel that the costs justify the benefits of not renting out their apartments and so the “ghosts” of Jerusalem will be here for some time to come.
Were you aware of this trend? What are your thoughts? If you had the means to purchase an apartment in Jerusalem, would you leave it empty most of the year or would you come and live here yourself?