Housing & Renting in Israel – The Rental Contract
Hebrew: דיור ומגורים – החוזה
The Basic Israeli Rental Contract
There is no standard rental contract in Israel, but you can buy different versions of a basic contract in some stationery stores. Your landlord may present you with a contract that he drew up with his lawyer. Take into consideration that the contract will, in all probability, be in Hebrew. A real-estate lawyer will charge you around half a month’s rent to translate and go over a rental contract with you in detail. If you can, ask a relative or a friend who speaks good Hebrew to go over the contract with you but realize that there may be some points and nuances that they may miss.
In your Contract
A typical rental contract may include some or all of the following points. Make sure that you have clarified these issues before signing the contract:
- Identity and details of the landlord.
- Israelis living in other cities or abroad often appoint a friend or relative to handle matters on their behalf. Make sure you have all the details of all parties involved.
- Make sure that the person renting the property has the authority to do so – you don’t want to get caught up in a scam!
- Description of the property – the lounge is considered as a room in Israel. A 4 roomed apartment means 3 bedrooms and a lounge. You may be offered a 3 1/2 roomed apartment. This means that one of the bedrooms is very small and you may only be able to fit a bed and a small wardrobe/closet. Often a landlord will close one of the rooms off and store his personal possessions in the room. Make sure that this is taken into account both in the rental agreement and in the price. Gardens, storerooms and parking spots must also be stipulated.
- Protected tenants law – it was very common many years ago to rent a property for “key money” and this is what this clause refers to. Mostly this does not happen anymore.
- The purpose of the rental: residential, home-office etc. If you are planning on using the property as a home-office check with your accountant for possible tax deductions.
- Verify who can live in the apartment with you – roommates, visitors, pets etc.
- Duration of the lease, notice period and regulations (written or verbal)
- Option to extend the lease and if there is a possibility to shorten the lease.
- Rent – how much, method of payment, frequency (monthly, quarterly etc.). It was common practice, some years ago, to quote the cost of the rental in US$, to be paid in accordance with the exchange rate, in shekels, on the date of the transaction. Mostly, now that the shekel is a more stable currency, rent is quoted in shekels.
- The state and condition of the property and who is liable for any repairs.
- Contents and condition of any furniture, appliances, light fittings or other items that come with the apartment – make a list of the contents.
- Check plumbing, gas and electrical – flush all toilets, open all taps, check that there is hot water, switch on all lights, check that the gas balloons are in working order and that all appliances, included in the contract, are in working order too.
- Take meter readings – water and electricity – take photos of the readings.
- Is there insurance on the structure, its contents and third party?
- Cosmetic changes – painting, hanging pictures or shelves etc. Are you allowed to make any?
- Vad habayit (house committee) – the tenant is only responsible for the regular monthly payments. Make sure you give the money directly to the house committee, not via the landlord.
- Penalties – agree on a rate. Whether the landlord does not hand over the apartment on time or if the tenant does not vacate the property on time, it should be the same rate for both sides.
- Guarantees – this could be in the form of a cash deposit, a bank guarantee or two guarantors. The guarantors must have a job and an income.
- At what point will the guarantee be returned to you and under what conditions. This is a very important aspect of the rental agreement. Landlords often come up with all kinds of reasons in order not to return part or all of the guarantee or deposit.
- Visits by the owner/landlord/agent – by prior coordination and at regular hours.
- If the property is sold during the course of the contract you must have the option to remain in the property until the end of the lease period. However if you want to vacate the property, under these circumstances, you should have the option to do that too.
- NEVER, EVER, EVER pay with cash. Always pay your rent with a check or by bank transfer so that you have proof of payment.
- Demand a receipt
- Take photographs of the apartment, furniture etc. before you move in, in case of disagreements when you move out..