Israeli law gives tenants the right to have a rental contract with their landlords. Some landlords may try to cheat you because you are a foreigner, which is why contracts are important. A well-written contract will protect you from things like paying too much rent or sharing a one-bedroom apartment with another tenant.
Contracts should clearly outline the responsibilities of both parties. For example, the landlord is responsible for cleaning communal areas and maintaining utilities (e.g. fixing broken plumbing). The tenant must pay for any damage he or his guests inflict on the apartment or furniture.
Contracts should be verified by a lawyer, especially if they are in Hebrew. This ensures that you are not cheated and that there are no loopholes.
As a new tenant, you pay a security deposit on your rental. This should be held by a lawyer for the duration of the tenancy. Your landlord will return the deposit at the end of the rental period.
Rent payments and due dates should be specified in a contract. Rent is generally paid in shekels, although some landlords may let their tenants pay in dollars or euros.
If you must pay in shekels for rent, landlords may set a minimum exchange rate in the contract. This means that when you must purchase shekels for paying your rent, you must exchange shekels at this rate (or higher).
Tenants pay the utility bills for their apartments. In some cases, the tenant receives the bill. In other cases, the landlord receives the bill and charges the tenant for the utilities used. Tenants also pay for services such as telephone, internet and television.
Length of Israeli rental contracts
Rental contracts in Israel are typically one year long, but you may specify a different length of the contract with your landlord. Some accommodations are rented for short periods (e.g. daily, weekly, monthly), others for longer periods (e.g. six months, annually).
Be sure to set clear dates for your tenancy. If you do not know how long you want to rent the property, include an option to renew clause. This clause gives you the choice to extend your contract. An option to renew clause should apply to the tenant only. Otherwise, your landlord can decide whether or not to extend your contract.
Option to renew clauses also determine whether a landlord can raise your rent upon renewal. Typically, landlords can raise your rent only if it is specifically stated in the option to renew clause. Some landlords might not sign the original contract unless they have the right to raise the rent.
Include a subletting clause in your contract. This allows you to sublet your accommodations if you need to move before your contract ends (while providing some extra income). Generally, you will have to find another tenant to take your place in a sublet.
Contracts specify the furniture you have in your apartment. What is included in the contract will be exactly what you get. This includes typical things such as chairs, tables and beds. It also includes less typical things such as lighting fixtures and closet doors. If you see any large appliances when you view the apartment, make sure the contract includes them. Otherwise, they will not be there when you move in.
Tenants in Israel have various privileges which enable them to make sure their landlords aren't cheating them. In some situations, the utility bill is sent directly to the landlord, and he charges tenants for their utility use. You may request to see the utilities bill if you believe your landlord makes you pay too much for them.
As a tenant, you also have the right to verify the identity of your landlord and if he is the property owner. To do so, you must contact your local Deed Register's office.