Israeli Landlord Ordered to Compensate Arab for Terminating Her Lease Over Neighbors' Pressure

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File photo: Apartment buildings in Afula in 2019.
File photo: Apartment buildings in Afula in 2019.Credit: Gil Eliahu

The Afula Magistrate’s Court ordered a landlord to compensate an Arab woman for terminating her lease on an apartment three days before it was to commence, due to complaints from other tenants about renting to an Arab.

The landlord, Yosef Amiel, was ordered to compensate the woman in the amount of 30,000 shekels (about $9,300). He told the court that he decided to break the lease because of the neighbors’ objections, which he said may have damaged him economically. He added that he was worried about the safety of the woman and her children and suspected that the neighbors may try to harm them, and denied that he had racist motives. The court registrar, Marat Dorfman, ruled that “the conduct of the respondent in fact led to his breaking the lease due to racist discrimination.”

Dorfman ruled that the case required “increased compensation because of the mental anguish and insult to the feelings and infringement of the rights of the complainant," because the lease was broken so close to the time it was to commence, among other things. He added that "the lease was broken due to race-based discrimination, and it seems that this insulted the complainant and caused her to feel like a second-class citizen who is not wanted in certain places in Israel, where she lives as a citizen with full rights.” He added that as a result, her right to equality was violated.

The registrar also rejected Amiel’s claim that he was worried about the safety of the woman and her children, and determined that Amiel “did not want conflict with the neighbors and preferred simply not to rent the apartment to an Arab, even if this meant breaking the lease.” He ruled that Amiel’s concern was that his ability to purchase another apartment would be compromised by his renting his apartment to an Arab.

With regard to Amiel’s claim that he was afraid of the neighbors, the registrar wrote that “if the complainant encountered a hostile attitude from the neighbors she would call the police, their intervention would very likely have prevented the neighbors from making good on their threats.”

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