Most people rent an apartment at some point during their lives. Some do so for financial reasons – no obligations towards mortgage and high interest rates and the apartment owners take responsibility for repairing defects or damage caused by wear and tear of the apartment, in any case. And some do so according to certain life stages, such as temporary residence in a student apartment or with partners.
However, as a condition for living in the apartment, each tenant signs a rental contract with the apartment owner, who enforces the “house rules” and specifies the areas of responsibility of the tenant and the landlord, the contents of the apartment, the rental period and the amount of rent determined in advance.
Landlords must be very careful: they must draw up an orderly legal document, through an apartment rental lawyer, which suits the specific circumstances and the specific lifestyle of the apartment and regardless of apartment documents of others. This creates some discrepancies between rental contracts of various apartments, which the signees may exploit and create a manipulation through them.
So for example, a tenant who took advantage of the fact that he was not obliged to paint and seal drilling holes and nails before leaving, left the apartment to the tenant that came after him in a neglected and unmaintained condition that caused the landlord to pay on his own initiative for repairs and painting. Or in another case, the storage room of an apartment was mentioned in the agreement which even allowed the tenants to use it, but did not specify the power of the landlord over it and thus the warehouse got filled with more and more contents, until the tenant could no longer use the storage room to store his belongings at all.
I’m not vacating, what are you going to do?
What happens when a particular tenant refuses to vacate the apartment where he lived? This is a relatively common phenomenon in which the tenant “settles” in the property and refuses to leave, which causes the landlord a significant damage both economically and in terms of supervision and control of what happens in the apartment.
The reasons why a tenant refuses to leave the property can be many: an ongoing conflict with the landlord and a desire to “take revenge” on him, unwillingness to leave the apartment at the end of the contract or as a result of non-compliance with payments and even the desire to take over the property and nullify the authority of the landlord over it.
The law and the legal system do not allow landlords to evict tenants from the apartments independently, and they must apply to the courts through a real estate lawyer. However, even when a legal order is finally issued instructing the tenant to vacate the property, many landlords are exposed to complete destruction in the apartment, including shattered walls, ceiling or floor, cutting of water and electricity pipes, removed outlets, light switches and more.
The law tries to take consideration of the tenants and even goes in their favor on the subject of the vacating the property, especially if they are defined as “means limited” or are currently in the process of bankruptcy. The law and the legal system see the tenant as the weak side in need of protection, which often turns out to be a natural imbalance between the sides and brings the lawyer into the picture.
Protection of the landlord’s property
The rental contract must include full details of all the things that are in the apartment including air conditioners, closets and of course furniture, if present. Since the contents of apartments can disappear by amazing means and very easily, it is recommended and even very desirable to take into account that any format of a “standard” document that regulates the rental, may leave out the detail of the contents and, as a result, damage the landlord and his property and even generate greater and unpredictable expenses in the future, than those he would have suffered had he not rented the apartment he owned to an unpredictable stranger. In order for the landlord to forever have adequate collateral, it is advisable to formulate an orderly and professional contract with a professional real estate lawyer who will explicitly and specifically secure that which is important for the landlord to protect.
The tenant’s rights
At first sight and naturally, it’s about the side that is considered more “vulnerable” in the deal, since the tenant is subject to the conditions of the landlord, needs approval for doing certain things in the house (such as adding a balcony awning or repairing tiles) and pays rent. Therefore, the tenant is interested in securing his rights and understand what he should do if he causes any damage to the apartment (for example, the tenant’s dog that severely scratched the door of the house) or what is the insurance and torts arrangement of the property in case when the apartment’s wear and tear or the forces of nature caused the damage (moisture and mold).
Also, experienced tenants who use the legal advice of a knowledgeable lawyer, know very well that they must verify, before the contract is signed, what the tenant’s rights and licenses in the apartment are and how he should operate certain systems inside the house and how to leave the place at the end of the rental period.
A changing real estate world
The housing market in Israel is currently undergoing many revolutions related to various options of residence and to various levels of rentals. So, for example, during the summer months, many people tend to sublet the apartment – that is, temporarily rent it out (for a couple of days to a month or two) to another tenant, solely on their own behalf and without notifying the owner about it in some cases. This, first and foremost, creates a breach of trust of the landlord towards the tenant and, in addition, it may cause serious damage to the apartment itself or the subtenant out of lack of awareness of the signed apartment contract.
So happened, for example, to Or, an apartment owner from Rosh Ha’ayin who discovered that in her rented apartment, stays a young woman who is not the tenant, and that she accidentally caused the destruction of the giant sliding window in the house. As a result, Or turned to the tenant and asked her to vacate the apartment, but not before taking part in the expense of repairing the window. The court rejected Or’s claims for the fact that there is no legal section which regulates the matter of the sublet in a contract with the tenant, and that as long as she does participate in the expenses of the window’s repairs, she may continue to live in the apartment and may not be required to leave.
But not only sublets are known as the trend of change in the housing market. Recently, many cases have been reported in which tenants have used the apartment for other purposes, such as renting out the apartment for a shared workspace (when professionals come to work in the rented apartment and pay the tenant by the hour) and even a famous case in which a tenant converted her apartment into a home for many animals, who lived in tight spaces and were neglected, until a neighbor found out about it and complained.
Such changes and others in the real estate world happen regularly and as a result there is a real need to renew the formulation of the rental contract, even if the landlord has been using the same document for many years.
It is important to keep the contract relevant and updated in accordance with the zeitgeist and occasionally make a small visit to the property in order to verify its state and its usage by the tenant or tenants who signed the contract with the landlord. The help of a knowledgeable lawyer should be used to revise the rental contract and adapt it based on the present state of the apartments nowadays.
It would be better even for the tenants if they take the help of an apartment rental lawyer regarding the contract’s stipulated conditions, and for each of the sides to receive mediation, advice, and representation that will direct him in how to act in such situations.
*The above article is by no means a legal advice; any use of this information is solely under the reader’s responsibility.