Dec 22, 2010

Renting In Jerusalem

Jerusalem has a problem that it has many apartments that sit empty most of the year. Many foreigners buy homes in Jerusalem and only use them for when they come to visit, leaving them sit empty the rest of the time, refusing to rent them out. This is considered a problem because it hurts the atmosphere of the neighborhoods having so many empty apartments - often they are clustered in specific areas. In addition, the phenomenon takes many apartments off the market, driving up housing prices making it difficult for young couples and students to be able to afford housing in the city, in addition to simply not having enough apartments available.

Jerusalem has 250,000 housing units, of which 11,161 are held by foreigners. Some of those are rented out, and some are sitting empty.

The City of Jerusalem is looking for a this problem, and is trying to promote that the owners should be willing to rent out the apartments, via a company employed by the city to manage these properties. Mayor Nir Barkat has been contacting owners of such properties to try to get them to agree to sign up for the program and allow their apartments to be rented out.

Good luck to him, but I dont see how people who have luxury homes in Jerusalem that should be available for whenever they feel like coming to visit are going to rent out their homes. If they rent it out, and they decide to make a trip, are the renters going to have to disappear for a couple of weeks? Anybody who holds property and doesn't want the apartment sitting empty, but takes advantage of the ability to rent out, is probably already doing so. People who not rent out their apartments choose not to because they dont want people in their apartments, they want them available for when they decide to come and visit.


  1. There's even a name, shechunat refaim ("ghost neighborhood"), for this.

    I think that moniker was coined specifically for the Mamilla neighborhood because it is remarkably empty aside from the Pesach and Sukkot holiday periods. But it's been used for certain streets (Achad HaAm in Talbieh, for example) in other neighborhoods as well.

    It's a nice, "feel good", idea, but it isn't going to help much because most of these apartments aren't setup to be rentals. Too much nice furniture/etc and people like to leave their stuff in the closets. Also the high-end is too expensive for renters, and the mid-end is typically used for longer periods of time by the owners and their family members.

  2. Transient renters aren't necessarily better for a neighborhood than well-secured empty (quiet) apartments.

    That said, I know of someone who had a vacation apartment in Jerusalem. After one pipe burst while they were away, they found a renter and made terms that he'd move out when they came in.

  3. anon - generally apartments that sit empty have property managers that are supposed to go in and make sure everything is ok at specific intervals.

  4. Would the municipality prefer not to have these high-end foreign absentee owners, meaning that more permanent housing is available, but lose out on all the revenue they bring in via holiday and summer tourism? The city is trying to have it both ways, and that's always difficult.


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