Be'er Sheva Students Blacklist Avaricious Landlords

Within a week, 3,000 students have joined Facebook group seeking to stop 'swinishness'.

Students in Be'er Sheva, fed up with the city's high rents, have started a blacklist that will include any apartment owner who seeks to raise the rent in what students deem an unjustifiable manner.

The blacklist was started on Facebook last week by three politics students from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Tomer Varon, Shai Goldberg and Noa Rubin. "We started the group to stop being suckers, to stop this swinishness, this attitude of 'get as much as you can,'" they wrote.

Within a week, 3,000 students have joined their Facebook group, and they expect the number to keep growing. They have also posted flyers about the project around the city, and plan to mail the blacklist to every student in the university.

Varon said they aren't specifying what they consider a reasonable rent, because that depends on the condition of the apartment. Nor is raising the rent always unreasonable, he stressed: The owner might have made improvements that justify the increase. But in most cases, he said, there is no justification.

Three years ago, said Goldberg, a shared apartment cost each roommate NIS 800 to NIS 1,000. Today, students pay NIS 1,200 or more. "We plan to fight the apartment owners who invented the term 'market conditions': Because students want to live near the university, they allow themselves to raise the rent on the pretext of 'market conditions,'" he added.

Their hope is that if enough students refuse to rent apartments on the blacklist, this will force owners to lower their prices. And yesterday, Varon said, they scored their first success: After receiving several calls from students asking why he was raising his rent, an owner finally agreed to keep it at NIS 2,300 a month instead of raising it to NIS 2,600.