Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Landlord Blues

I've been renting in Israel for over 11 years. There have been recent articles in Haaretz on the pros and cons of renting vs. buying. But let me tell you, renting in Israel is the absolute, absolute pit of the pits. There's nothing more horrible and unsettling and nerveracking than this. Most apartments are owned privately and these private owners occasionally rent out their property to tenants for leases - 1 year at a time. We have had landlords from hell - our first landlord - where we rented an old dump with an overgrown, unattended-to, giant garden. We deposited security money with him and nearing the end of our one-year lease, he complained of "damages to the garden". This is a ploy to try and keep your security deposit. We learned fast. Fortunately, hubby is handy at lawnmowing from those lush lawns in Toronto and we proved him wrong by planting grass seeds and watering the new grass and were fortunate to have before and after photos which showed his words to be foolish talk.

The 2nd apartment we rented was from a family from the foreign ministry who were overseas for two years. We were like "WOW! What stability. We can actually stay in one place for more than one year...YIPPEEEE!" They had 2 children and we had 5. We thought we did a decent job of cleaning their home after we moved out, but they muttered that they had to "really clean" up after we moved out and why did we shut off the electricity? I had no idea you just transfer it back to the owners, I just thought you cancel your account and close it up. So they had to contend with the messiness of opening up the electricity once more.

The 3rd apartment we rented was miraculously also for 2 years - but the layout was horrible that we had our livingroom on the 2nd floor. But his brother wanted our place so we had to move out.

The 4th apartment we rented was from a builder whose office said they'd Never Ever sell it. That was 5 years ago. We were in renter's heaven. We were free, we were stable, our family could get their shit together and we didn't have to be saddled with high mortgages, etc. But in August they called and said they wanted to sell. We were mortified and pleaded with them. We even offered them higher rent but to no avail. We had to re-rent.

Alas, there are hardly any 4 bedroom apartments in our neighborhood to rent. I shared this ordeal with you, I am sure, on some previous nightmarish post. So we decided to go for the plunge and buy. Which we did and we cannot wait to move into a place of our own - where we can be as messy, or as clean, or as noisy, as we'd like, and where we can stay until the messiah comes. It sounds too good to be true.

But meanwhile, we had to rent apartment #5 until our own place is ready. This was a lease for 4 months. This has to be the craziest of all places I've ever rented. She's not quick to fix anything and every time we turn the hot water switch on, the fuse blows. She asked for all her rent up front too and charged us a fortune because we needed a place for a few months and not a full year. She wanted all her bills paid even before the due date. She's a pain in the ass landlady.

This landlady wants to rent her apartment after we move out and she wants to sell it too. So she or an agent or a potential renter/buyer is calling me up nearly every day wanting to see the place. Sometimes they show up and sometimes they don't - and this is when my kids feel - "why did I have to clean this place up for nothing". But at least I get to have a clean house. Last night an agent called me and brought us 5 South American people traipsing through the house at dinnertime. Everything was "mucho bueno." Hubby was sitting in front of the telly saying "Shouldn't we put a limit on these people coming to our house at all hours?" He's having many a "house invasion" moment.

But I'm feeling so lethargic about the whole thing and don't mind the daily showings of the house - it's not that disruptive for me. Because I'll be moving out soon, to a permanent place - and will be pitying the renter that has to rent one year at a time.

1 comment:

Emah S said...

At least you clean before people come to see the place! We're in the process of looking right now and it's AMAZING how disgusting some of the places are that we are looking at! One of the owners even started telling us stuff about his place while we were all standing in the bathroom---I almost suffocated!!!

Hang in there! :)