Bill Gains Pace to Regulate Israel's Soaring Apartment Rental Industry

A place to live has gone from a basic right to a luxury, says a government legislator who is cooperating with the opposition on the move.

Tomer Appelbaum

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill Monday to define livable conditions for Israel’s 2 million apartment and house renters suffering from soaring prices.

The bill was first proposed during the previous Knesset and was resubmitted this session by opposition MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) and MK Roy Folkman (Kulanu).

The bill would regulate leases, deposits and landlords’ and tenants’ obligations regarding upkeep. It would also create a rental registrar and require all property owners to submit lease details within a month of signing.

The registrar would be available to the public so that potential renters could examine previous leases on any apartment. Also, property owners would receive long-term tax incentives.

“A two-year struggle that faced endless opposition from all directions has borne fruit,” Shaffir said. “It is a great day for 2 million renters.”

Shaffir said she had crafted the bill with MKs Hilik Bar (Zionist Union), Orli Levi-Abekasis (Yisrael Beiteinu) and others from the last Knesset, and thanked Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Folkman — members of the governing coalition — for helping with the legislation. Kahlon has pledged to put a dent in purchase prices for housing as well.

“As part of the Kulanu party, I believe in a free market and competition, but when there are market failures, it’s our duty as legislators to intervene and solve them. Rental prices in Israel have soared in recent years, and a place to live has gone from a basic right to a luxury,” said Folkman, who is also Kulanu’s floor chief.

“This move will complement steps taken by the finance minister, who approved this bill every step of the way. I believe that in the end the interests of renters and property owners in a fair rental market is a joint interest.”