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Renting an apartment in Israel is a very different affair from renting an apartment in the United States. In the US, you usually submit your rental application to a professional rental-management company, you provide them with your credit information and proof of income, and you almost never meet or negotiate the rental terms with the owner of the apartment.In Israel, things are very different. You will be renting directly from the owner of the apartment.

As a result, there are a number of factors which you need to consider when renting an apartment from its Israeli owner.

Here are some of the major matters you will have to deal with when negotiating a rental agreement with an apartment owner in Israel:

Proof of Ownership.

When attempting to rent an apartment from an Israeli owner, the first thing you must do is make sure that the person with whom you are negotiating a rental agreement is in fact the registered owner of the apartment. Ownership of an apartment in Israel can be verified only through the Israel Land Registry – known as “The Tabu”. Obtain the owner’s full name, his/her Israeli ID number, and the Block, Parcel and Sub parcel # of the unit. Then submit these details to the Tabu to verify that the person with whom you are negotiating is in fact the legal owner of the apartment.

If the owners of the apartment are married, you will need the acceptance of both spouses. Make sure the owners aren’t going through a divorce, and that both owners agree to rent the unit to you.

If the original owner has passed away and his/her adult child living in Israel wants to rent out the apartment before the Israeli courts have decided that this child is in fact now the legal owner, your attorney will need to verify who the lawful owners are prior to completion of the probate process.

What Furnishings Come with the Apartment?

In the US, an “unfurnished “apartment still comes with closets, a stove, a refrigerator, a stove, and sometimes a dishwasher and a washer/dryer. In Israel, an “unfurnished” apartment comes with none of these, and you will have to bring your own.

If you don’t own any/all of the appliances and furnishings that you need, consider a “partly-furnished” apartment. Make sure that your rental agreement stipulates exactly what fixtures, furnishings and appliances come with the unit. The owner of the apartment will usually be responsible for the repair of these items should the need arise. But make sure this is specifically stipulated in the rental agreement.

Who Pays For Repairs of Appliances?

In the US, the landlord is usually responsible to pay for repairs to appliances and for plumbing and electrical repair expenses. if a landlord does not make repairs to damaged furnishings or appliances, the tenant can often undertake to pay for these repairs and then deduct these expenses from future rent payments. In Israel, this must be specifically agreed to, and landlords very seldom agree to this. If the apartment owners live outside of Israel, it makes things more time consuming, as they may not be accessible to undertake any necessary repairs, even if your rental agreement stipulates that they are responsible to pay for them.

For How Long Can You Usually Rent an Israeli Apartment?

In Israel, it is unusual to find an apartment available for long-term rental. Most apartments are rented for a period of one year. You should try and get a written option to extend the term of the rental beyond the first year. If you do not get this option at the time you sign your rental agreement, you may not be able to get it later, and you may have to move out after your year is up. The owner may want to move back into his/her apartment, may want to sell it, or may want to give it to their children. So if you plan to rent for a period of longer than one year, do what you can to obtain an option to extend the rental agreement beyond the initial period.

Who is Responsible for the Payment of Utilities and Taxes?

In the US, the apartment owner is usually responsible for the payment of some utilities (eg. water) and all taxes. In Israel, the tenant is responsible to pay for municipal taxes (“Arnona”), water, electricity, house committee payments (“Vaad Bayit” – similar to Homeowners Association fees in the US), telephone, cable and Internet service. You will be required to transfer the Arnona bill to your name, and you will be held liable if you default. The Vaad Bayit payment covers regular building maintenance. Make sure that your rental agreement/lease stipulates that you are responsible for regular maintenance payments but are not responsible for special collections to repair or improve the building. These payments are the responsibility of the owner.

What Type of Security Must the Renter Provide?

In the US, a landlord will require you to pay a security deposit of a month’s rent upon signing. In Israel, landlords can demand three types of security/assurance: you can be asked to provide a bank guarantee, you may be asked to sign a promissory note signed by you and two guarantors (together with pay stubs to prove income), and you may also be required to provide a personal check to the owner, postdated for the date of the expiration of the lease. These guarantees protect the landlord in the event that you leave the apartment before the expiry of the lease, or if the apartment is damaged. You will often be asked to provide all three of these security guarantees, or at least two of them.

What Happens if the Owner Sells the Apartment While You Are Still Renting?

Under Israeli law, an apartment owner may sell his/her apartment while you are still renting it. Israel’s 1971 Law of Leasing & Borrowing protects you – the tenant – and you can usually complete the term of your lease. But you should note that the new owner may not agree to be responsible for repairs that the previous owner had agreed to, and you will also not be able to sub-lease the apartment under the new owner.

Additional Legal Considerations When Renting an Israeli Apartment

At the time of signing your initial rental agreement with the apartment owner, you need to consider the following issues:

  • Breach of Contract & Penalties;
  • Specific Purpose of the Rental (Business or Residential);
  • Payment Schedule
  • Method of Payment (Check, bank deposit, etc);
  • Option Terms;
  • Insurance;
  • Owner’s Rights to Enter Apartment;
  • Tenant’s Obligation to Maintain Apartment;
  • Tenant’s Obligation to Keep the Pace and not Disturb the Neighbors;
  • Full Inventory of Furnishings and Appliances;
  • Return of Securities;

We are located in Tel Aviv with offices in New York and Los Angeles, California. We invite you to schedule a complimentary consultation with our firm to learn how we can solve your Israeli legal and business matters.

Rahav D. Aharoni, Adv

My expertise lies in assisting heirs and clients in the identification and acquisition of inherited assets in Israel, resolving estate and real estate conflicts, and facilitating transactions involving Israeli real estate, investments, and businesses. I am dedicated to helping my clients build equity and achieve their goals.