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Knesset Unit Bars Major Increases to Owners of Rent-controlled Buildings

A Knesset committee today rejected a Government-sponsored draft bill that would have allowed the owners of controlled buildings a major rent increase. It raised the rent ceiling but only by half the amount granted in the Government measure. Rent control has been in effect since it was imposed by the Mandatory Government during World War II. It was continued by the Israel Government to cope with the severe post-war housing shortage, a problem that persists in certain areas. Rent control applies only to dwelling units built before the war. Rents have been raised periodically with Government permission, but landlords complain that they are still too low to yield a fair return. As a result, many of them have allowed their property to fall into disrepair. The new rent ceiling is intended to improve the landlords’ return. Its passage by the Knesset is virtually assured.