Monday, July 19, 2010



This title sounds simple enough………

1] You check the newspaper for rentals or get a rental agent

2] Go and look at some apartments….

3] Find the one you like…..

4] Sign a lease…..

5] Order a moving truck…..

6] Pack up and move………

Very straight forward, something that shouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks, you would think.

Now let me backtrack a little. We live in Netivot and we were living in our previous apartment for 5 years and were very happy. We had great neighbors, a super location with good public transportation and close to shopping, our medical clinic, and shuls on very corner including one in the building next to ours. So why did we move, you ask?

Our landlady [Yafffa] told us that she was not going to renew our lease as she wanted to move back into her apartment. In Israel, except for not paying the rent, this is the only reason an owner can not renew the lease.

The problem was that she told us on May 25th which gave us only 5 weeks to find a new place to live. Most landlords give 60 to 90 days notice. Our lease was over June 30th. I said to my husband, “no problem. I am sure we will find something in our neighborhood in few days.” Boy was I wrong!

So started the search. In Netivot, as in many other communities in Israel, each Friday, the local magazines are available and they advertise everything from A to Z including several classified sections. Both private people and agents list what rentals and for sells they have. We had decided to find an apartment on our own and not use an agent because agents take a months rent for their service.

Week 1 in the search proved to be unsuccessful. The tenant living in the only apartment that we went to see told us that the drains in the bathrooms were blocked and that the shower in the master bedroom couldn’t be used because it flooded the bedroom. She told me that she has to pour bleach into the drains daily to control the smell.[we could smell the bleach] When I asked her why the landlord didn’t fix the drains, she said that he didn’t want to because it was an expensive job. Scratch that apartment.

We decided to place our own ad ‘Looking for an apartment’ in the largest magazine for the following Friday. Anxiously, we waited for the calls from people who had apartments for rent and were looking for good tenants. The only calls we got were from people who didn’t read the ad correctly and thought we had an apartment for rent.

Week 2 was back to the drawing board. We decided to speak to other people and ask them to keep their eyes opened for us. We take a lot of taxis, and taxi drivers in Netivot know everything. We asked the drivers if they hear about an apartment in our area to let us know and gave them a cell phone number to call. We also placed our ad in the magazine once again hoping for better results.

My daughter told me about an Israeli site for rentals. We checked out all the rentals but there wasn’t anything in the area where we wanted to live. This site became our ‘favorite site’. Several times a day we would check to see if anyone posted a new apartment listing.

That Friday, the magazines came out ….. we called several ads only to be told that the building didn’t allow internet or televisions. These were haredi buildings. Now I should tell you that we were living in a haredi area…..The project that we lived in had 10 buildings with 6 families in each building. The majority of families in the project were haredi, with some of the buildings totally haredi.

In our building there were 2 haredi families, 2 dati leumi families like us and 1 cholini [secular] family. We all got along very well. Another owner didn’t want any young children in the apartment at any time. We have B"H 12 grandchildren………….

Once again, our ad didn’t result in any calls.

We were now entering week 3. Our computer repairman called us and said that his aunt had an apartment for rent in our project [the building with the shul] and it was available immediately. This apartment was 100 meters, [good size] had the amount of bedrooms we wanted, rent was reasonable. The only drawback was that it was on the 3rd floor. My husband and I are not spring chickens but we decided to go and see the apartment.

We know this building very well and knew that it had problems with the roof when it rained. I had heard that the top floor apartments had a lot of rain damage but I didn’t realize exactly how much damage rain can do.

When we walked into the apartment it looked like a bomb had hit it. The previous tenants destroyed the entire apartment. We were told that they lived there for 2 years but didn’t pay the rent and it took 18 months for the court to evict them. They broke all the trisim, torn the screens made holes in the walls and ceilings, totally broke the 2 toilets and shower hoses, broke the doors of the kitchen cabinets and left the kitchen double sink hanging by one bolt. The floor looked like it hadn’t been washed in the 2 years they lived there.

When we went to see the laundry room, we saw the damage cased by the rain. The apartment had a beautiful layout and I could picture it clean and furnished. The landlady was asking 2000 shekals a month to take it as is and we could fix it ourselves or 2200 shekals a month and she would fix and paint.

We agreed to go and speak to the landlady and arranged to meet her a couple of days later. Our children were very unhappy that the apartment was on the 3rd floor. They told us to remember that we had to shlepp heavy groceries. They and my husband were very concerned about the rain and the damage. My son-in-law said, “who is going to pay for your damage when it rains. You are moving into a freshly painted apartment and when it rains, you will be back to square one.” In the end we decided that this apartment was more trouble than it was worth.

We then saw another apartment where the laundry room was outside on the balcony and since there was a built in stove in the kitchen, I would have to put my stove outside. Since both my appliances are electronic, any dampness would have ruined them.

At the end of week 3 we were not any closer to finding an apartment. We now enter week 4 and we see an ad on yad2 for an apartment on our street. We called the owner and made arrangements to go and see the apartment.

This apartment was just what we wanted….location, number of bedrooms, rent etc. It had a beautiful kitchen with a breakfast nook. The balcony was small and off the master bedroom, [not good], but the master bedroom had a walk-in closet [very unusual in our area]. The apartment needed to be painted but basically it was in good condition. The only drawback was that it was only available for August 1st and we needed it for July 1st.
I really wanted to rent this apartment. We spoke to Yaffa [our landlady] about giving us an extra month, and she went bonkers. My husband told her that if she didn’t stop screaming he would hang up on her. She only screamed louder and so he hung up. Five minutes later, Yaffa called back threatening to show up on the 1st and throw all our furniture of the balcony. My husband just hung up on her. 

We broke down and called an agent that we knew and asked him if he had any apartments for July 1st. He took us to see the dirtiest, smelliest and the most expensive apartment that we ever saw. Scratch this apartment. I still wanted the August apartment.

The next day, when Avrham went downstairs to get the mail, who did he meet coming into the building….you guessed it, Yaffa and was she ever ‘hot’.  My husband invited Yaffa to come upstairs and talk quietly but once again she had a screaming fit and then threatened to have her friends come and beat him up and throw our furniture in the garbage.

Finally I just opened the door and said to her “Shalom Yaffa”, wow did she get angry at me. She told that this was her apartment and I can’t throw her out of it. I told her that I paid the rent, so it is my apartment until the lease is over so get out.  When she finally left, I told my daughter about Yaffa, she said that since this was her second threat, she would call a police detective that she knows and asked what to do. He advised us to report her threat to the police and so this is what Avraham did.

Later that day, Yaffa called Avraham to tell him that she just spoke to an agent that she knew and that he had an apartment available for July 1st.

Avraham called the agent and we went to see the apartment. The apartment was a large 2 bedroom apartment, freshly painted and really in move in condition in a haredi building.

As I mentioned before, haredi buildings don’t allow televisions, internet or dogs. We had all three. We told the agent that the apartment was very nice but that we had a television with a contract from YES, the satellite cable company and a dog. [The dog has since passed away] We wanted permission from the owner to put up the satellite dish. If we got permission we would take the apartment.

He told us the dog wasn’t a problem but he would ask about satellite dish and would let us know the next day. We spoke to the agent early the next day and he told us that the owner gave his permission and agreed to write it in the lease as a clause.

That afternoon we signed the lease. Everything seemed to be coming together. We ordered our moving truck for the day we wanted and finished up packing. Little did we know.................

Until next time….. Im Yirtzeh Hashem next week part 2.......
Our Challenges [an unbelievable story]