Stefanella's Drive Thru

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Rent Control Now!! October 12, 2006

As I venture into the Tel Aviv jungle each day on an apartment hunt quest I’m realizing that the British law governing home ownership and rental in Holy Land Central (HLC) is outdated, sad and sorry. Israel is in need of an urgent housing law upgrade to benefit both tenant and landlord.

Take squatting, for instance. No such thing in HLC as the U.S. “Pay Rent or Quit” giving a tenant three days to cough it up or get out. And by get out, I DO mean EVICTION. No mucking around in Yankee-ville. Padlocked front door, all things inside are lost to the landlord and if you have kids, well ya shoulda thought of that sooner, hmmm? On the street. Harsh as hell but..well it’s the American way.
Here the tenant can refuse to pay rent and squat. For an eternity. Because the law states that if children live on the property, the landlord CANNOT forcefully evict. True to life nightmare scenario: Tenant (with Mafia ties) moved into deluxe apartment with his family. He promptly changed the locks and halted rent checks. He and his family (read: KIDS) lived rent-free for two years. One day the owner goes berserk and takes a hammer to the electricity box and to the front door. She is arrested for breaching the law.
Flip side: There is no such thing as rent control. The sky’s the limit on rent increase as is the interpretation of the law when it comes to who fixes what in an apartment gone amok. Landlords will demand the renter insure property or pay for major repairs not linked to normal wear and tear. Exploded water pipe? “Your problem,” sayeth evil owner.
And let’s just say you’re negotiating a new contract agreement with the landlord and the give & take goes awry. “Get out. Your contract is up in a week. Leave.” No thirty days for you, sorry to say. Never mind that the talks broke down and said landlord is unwilling to budge. You leave. Refer back to the bit on squatting for a quick solution to this problem.
It’s time to form an action group, mes compadres. I’ve seen it voiced in public forums. Yallah. Let’s go.
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