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Short term rental in Israel

Rabbi Menachem CoppermanTammuz 18, 5768
510
Question
We rented an apartment on a Yishuv in israel for four months. originally the landlord wanted 400$ a month, then he said he wanted 450$ never mentioning any additional expense. After four months, the night before we left he came and handed us a bill for Arnona (tax) and a bill for electricity. Neither he or his wife mentioned this for four months although the bills in israel are sent every two months. He never showed us a meter or a number on the meter of the amount already used. We did not have a meter that was attached only to our apartment so we dont know how he arrived at the amount he says we owe. We were told by a local govermment office that the Arnona was not our responsiblity. Now he is dunning us for the money which comes to about 600 american dollars.
Answer
Shalom In general, it is your obligation to pay the water, electricity and gas bills, since you are the ones using the apartment. The sum you pay the landlord for rental does not include the above payments. Therefore you have to pay them separately to the local municipality (or to the landlord if he already payed them himself). The fact that you didn't know about these payments does not exempt you from paying for the facilities you were using during your stay. Regarding the Arnona tax, you are right that in cases of short term rental (less than a year), the Israeli Municipality Law (no. 326) obligates the landlord to pay the Arnona. Never the less, there is a dispute regarding the question if the above law exempts the person living in the apartment from paying (a), therefore I would consult a local lawyer who is familiar with tax laws. In any case, if the sum your landlord is demanding seems exaggerated (which doesn't seem to be the case), ask to see the original bills he got from the local municipality or contact them directly and ask them for an extra copy of the bills for the term you were living in the apartment. Kol Tuv Rabbi Menachem Copperman Sources: (a) See "Arnona - magazine of real estate and taxation", vol. 11 p.16
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