The problems begins right here, because in fact this should not be a tenant issue at all, but a landlord issue. Unfortunately in Israel, most landlords have a total disregard for the subject.
Moisture, Drainage and New Immigrants:
This is a bad combination because Israelis are used to the “Smoch Alai” (“Trust Me” approach) – if you hear your landlord say “trust me” be sure that nothing will be done or repaired!
On the other hand, new immigrants are used to a different standard, a different climate, a different type of construction and material and especially, new immigrants are used to the traditional way of doing business where the property is almost wholly the responsibility of the landlord and not a problem that the tenant should handle himself!
A Bad Combination?
Add a “professional” (plumbers, carpenters, renovators etc) and you will learn how a bad combination can turn into a nightmare.
Like everywhere else in the world, these professionals are at most (not everyone but in general terms) “not very punctual”. You can wait days, even weeks, until they finally complete their work. You will learn that these Israeli professionals are the most creative at giving excuses.
Worst of all are the “shortcuts” they use. Why should they change a pipe if the leaking can be “deviated” to somewhere else? Why paint the entire damaged wall if you can paint only that small damaged part?
Why do you have to handle all these problems?
Very simple answer: You do not have to. You should not and must not handle these problems. If you can – avoid being part of the “fixing process”. This is not something you should be doing but if there is no other way, at least do it right. Fix it yourself or move out.
Doing it right – Be sure you really want to move out.
If you have tried everything with no results and the landlord refuses to fix the problem it is time you do it yourself. If you want to move out to a better place, take your time and re consider. How can you know if the other place will be better? Especially in the summer when every wall is dry and looks good, you will never know about any serious problem. Consider how acute the problem is in your present location.
If you have made your decision to start looking for a new place – wait! You now must notify the landlord. Read the contract and consult with a lawyer. There is always a way out when the landlord breaches the contract.
There are other issues to be considered such as: Unpaid bills, fixing the things you may have broken during your period as a tenant, a security check you may have given your landlord, etc.
Only if you are absolutely sure you can do it legally and in the right way should you move out.
Can I sue the landlord?
You can, but for this purpose you have to prepare yourself very well. There must be no grounds for doubts.
Remember that the burden of proof is always on the plaintiff’s shoulders – meaning you! Therefore, take the time to have a well prepared case before moving out. You will need to consult a lawyer beforehand. You will be given instructions (every case differs from each other) even by phone – act accordingly.
You have decided to stay – Start fixing what is wrong and do it in the right way:
The right way starts in giving the landlord notice. This means a notification by law according to what is said in your contract. This is generally done by sending a registered letter, optimally written by a lawyer.
You now need pictures (use the daily newspaper in the background to be sure everyone can see the date the picture was taken) and if the damage is “big” this won’t be enough – you will need an expert review. An expert opinion will cost money; but it is a must when the damage is not only to the walls but also extensive damage to your belongings.
If you need to replace any belongings, purchase them in a regular store where prices are average and keep the receipt. The secret is to act as if you are purchasing something with your own money – spare the landlord’s money as if it was yours.
The next step is to find reliable professionals. Use the many lists and groups on the Internet – and better if you use the Anglo groups. Be sure the person you are hiring is especially reliable.
Do not even consider saving money on VAT. Pay the agreed amount including “Maam – VAT” and ask for a receipt. Not just a receipt but a very explicit one that specifies the work done and what kinds of problems were fixed by him.
Keep track of every document, receipt, picture, etc. Better to have some type of “diary” where every step of the process is reported. From the day the problem began to the day the problem was fixed by you or the day you moved out. This can be very helpful in the future, especially in court.
Next week: Mold in Israel.