The law firm of Adv. Guy Farbman deals quite a bit with real estate, primarily with urban renewal. But with Adv. Farbman one can find a position from an angle that not many other offices can provide – a vision for dealing with the elderly population, which is considered the most challenged of buildings tenants.
When he lays out his philosophy, Adv. Fabrman sounds like he has an agenda, but he immediately clarifies that his reality brought him to the field. I really do not come from a house with a socialist agenda, he says, but I have been working with urban renewal for many years, more than 15, and I meet with people who are older than 80, whose apartment is their only asset, and I understand that we are taking care of everything, other than the future of the elderly.
If Adv. Farbmans dealing with the elderly did not start out as an agenda, it is now. So much so that Adv. Farbman has a vision on this matter. Sometimes we do not think about things until they explode in our faces, he explained. Now everything is still running relatively smoothly, but if we do not invest thought into how to deal with these people, we will find ourselves with a new population of people that are faced with poverty.
Is it really to that extent? Explain.
We are dealing with elderly tenants, some are ill, some are new immigrants, and almost everyone is a day laborer, and their apartment is their only asset. They live in a rickety, neglected building, and pay relatively low municipal tax and low condominium fees.
And then, lets say that everything went smoothly. Suddenly, they find themselves in a new apartment; however, its worth more, but without the ability to maintain it, since suddenly there is a management company that needs to be paid NIS 600-700 per month, and accordingly higher municipal taxes.
Now, before urban renewal, they lived off their allowances, with a limited amount of funds. Then they moved to a new apartment, but their income stayed the same, and now it costs them a lot more money to maintain their apartment. Therein lays the problem. This type of person receives a more expensive apartment, but finds themselves in the situation that they cannot afford to live in it.
He can sell.
Thats it; thats exactly the circle. Lets say they sell it, and even makes a profit. After the sale transaction, and all the surrounding expenses, they wont have much of the profit remaining, and the same elderly tenant will have to buy in a non-expensive neighborhood. I think that if we are not careful, we will find ourselves in another few years with a slum that will replace the ones that exist today.
With your experience, what can you offer them?
Firstly, I very carefully examine the transaction, and see how I can protect them. People like them need a different type of treatment, special attention, not just as individuals, but as a population. I always take care to explain to this type of tenant what the future implications of upgrading his apartment are.
How do you do so without harming the other tenants?
Its very simple – by making sure there are solutions. I have a lot of meetings with elderly tenants, and I understood that their first objections disappear when they begin to be dazzled by the extra square meters and the increased value of the apartment. Therefore I make sure to explain to them the meaning and details of the deal, and I give them the true data, so they understand what they are getting themselves in to. None of this comes at the expense of the tenants, unequivocally, because I provide solutions.
As of today, Adv. Farbmans solutions are localized. He is concerned that an elderly tenant will not know what their rights are, so he explains them. The tenant does not understand the significance, so he explains and takes care to protect the tenant. I was part of a project in Bat Yam, in which I was successful in convincing the contractor that some of the tenants rights would include an amount of money that he will set aside for a fund that will cover some of the difference of the rise in cost of maintaining the apartment for the elderly building tenants. Although the fund does not cover them for the rest of their lives, it will provide them with a few good years.
Incidentally, Adv. Farbman is not satisfied with these localized solutions. In his opinion, we need to find a socio-political solution. Urban renewal is a process in motion, and in this type of circumstance, we do not always think about things, and then they blow up in our face. We need to deal with this in a less financial manner, and a more social manner, otherwise, we will find ourselves with a growing impoverished sector of poor elderly, whose situation, as it is, is not great.
These solutions must be provided by the State. There is what to do. For example, one can decide that a person above a certain age will receive exemptions, for example, municipal tax discounts. An elderly tenant could receive reduced additional fees on their apartment extension, and as extra consideration for any area they did not receive, any management fees and municipal taxes that are expected to be paid at the end of the project could be covered for them. One could decide that a portion of the betterment levy would be appropriated for this cause. There are many things that can be done; a decision just needs to be made. There are enough officials that could protect elderly tenants. The Ministry of Finance that must budget for this, the Ministry of the Interior that must make municipal decisions, the Ministry of Construction and Housing, and of course, the government office that is in charge of the pensioners portfolio.
Adv. Farbman was one of the first lawyers who began to deal with urban renewal. He saw then the potential and identified what would be next in the future. Today, as he provides an unconventional perspective to this plan, it is worth paying attention to him.
Tel.: 03-6129607 www.farbman-law.com
That which is stated in this article does not constitute legal advice, and cannot be used in any ways as an alternative to legal support by a lawyer who specializes in the field.
National Outline Plan 38 and Urban Renewal Supplement Attached to Israel Today June 2016 Page 11