“The apartment comes with a cat. If you don’t take the cat, you don’t take the apartment.” This was one of the more tame demands made by a Tel Aviv landlord, where street cats apparently get higher priority than humans. Demands run from the completely absurd to the highly inappropriate.
This one example is simple proof that Tel Aviv has become the land of the landlords. In a city with such high demand, renters in need of apartments deal with unfair demands in an exponentially increasing real estate market.
While those with a hefty bank account may have an easier time finding a rental home, most new immigrants are the ones who are met with many trials and tribulations due to greed, power, language barriers, and lack of protection or care from the state.
Not only are landlords free to request ridiculous demands, but they also hire real estate agents who impose large fees on renters. Most real estate agents demand new immigrants sign a form in Hebrew they likely do not understand before showing apartments, and for a turn of the key, expect a one month fee for their services. Because the unfair and unregulated housing market, landlords and brokers play on the same field of greed, where contract negotiations consist of a pompous ‘take it or leave it’ attitude.
With no renter protection, it’s difficult to feel at home and find a home in the holy land. Most apartments cannot be rented for longer than a year at a time, and stories are told on repeat of landlords who raise rent without notice, threaten to kick renters out if demands are not met, keep security deposits because they can, and impose any other way they can think of to take advantage of those arriving in Tel Aviv to create a better life for themselves.
Why don’t the renters fight back? There’s simply no way to fight it. Going to court, finding a lawyer, and battling against an entity that has power and money on their side, the renter is too busy looking for a new little box to call home.