Renting an apartment or home in Israel can be a challenging experience unless you are aware of how it works.
In Israel the Realtor gets paid first. When using a realtor to locate a property be aware that they will get paid the equivalent of one month’s rent before the Landlord (Balibite) gets paid for their first month. Usually this will take place at the same time. Sometimes if you ask upfront the realtor will let you make a few payments to them but you have to clarify this in the beginning.
Another very important thing to do is get all repairs that you see are necessary in writing. They (realtors) won’t tell you about them and if you notice them they will tell you they will get the landlord to take care of the problems. Get it in writing from the landlord when you are signing the contract. Even the nicest of landlords have memory loss when it comes to spending money on repairs. They may say you can fix the problems and they will deduct it from the rent. Remember, the time you spend fixing the problem also has a price along with the materials. They (landlords) like Americans because we generally fix things to make them nice; which increases the value of their property. Make sure you are compensated for the repair work you do. Take pictures and keep receipts.
There is a common light hanging problem here in Israel. I haven’t quite figured out why they leave a light fixture hanging from the wires in the ceiling. Unfortunately this is very common. Maybe they think the renters will put in their own lighting so they leave it that way. I’m not sure at this point.
Appliances are generally not included in a rental property. Including refrigerators, ovens, stoves and washing machines. It is a real blessing if these things are already in the property you are looking to rent. Otherwise be prepared to schlepp these things around with you along with your furniture and belongings.
Arnona is also an added expense renters pay for in Israel. Arnona is the property tax and owners in Israel make the renters pay for it. Very rarely the landlord will include it in your rent but either way you pay it. It can be up to almost half a months rent you pay bimonthly. There is a benefit for new Olim for one year on this. You can receive between 70 to 90% discount on the Arnona with the presentation of your Tuedot Oleh card to the Arnona office in your city.
Renting in an apartment? Find out if there is a Vaud fee. That is a property maintenance fee. Usually for keeping the exterior of the apartment complex and stairways clean. This another added expense and depending on the building it can be quite expensive so make sure you find out how much this fee is.
Then there is gas, water and electric. Make sure you take pictures of the meter readings when you are about to move in to your new place. You will need these numbers to give to the appropriate companies for proper billing; again you will need to take these numbers again when you are ready to move out. Your realtor or landlord should help you with gathering this information. Sometimes the landlord needs to give you a letter with a copy of their Tuedot Zeut to present to the water company to be able to place the bill in your name.
There are benefits to renting in Israel. If there are major problems with the property; plumbing, electrical or structural that is the landlord’s problem and not yours. They are responsible to fix these things. If they are a good landlord they will.
Renting in Israel is not so bad as long as you are aware of how it works. If you are not sure where you are to settle and buy a place, renting is the way to go. Plus, the true nuances of a city take a while to find out. Rent first, then buy if you find you really like the area.
I hope this will help.