Legal Updates

Defects in an apartment that were not disclosed or repaired by the lessor may justify a cessation of payment of rent

September 10, 2020

A lessee was forced to leave an apartment due to multiple defects which prevented him from using the apartment. The lessee was not notified of such defects when he entered the apartment and such were not repaired by the lessor, despite many notices on the lessee’s part. The lessee demanded full refund of rent.
The Court held that the defects prevented the possibility of living in the apartment in a manner that exempted the lessee from paying rent. The Israeli Rental and Borrowing Act stipulates that a lessor does not fulfill its obligations if the property delivered to the lessee does not correspond with what was agreed between the parties. However, the lessee may not rely on non-conformity if it was known to him before signing the contract, if the lessee did not notify the lessor within a reasonable time after discovering it, or if failed to give the lessor an adequate opportunity to repair the defects, which by law the lessor is obliged to do within a reasonable time. In the event that the lessor failed to do so, the lessee may choose one of two remedies: To repair the defect by itself and demand from the lessor reimbursement of reasonable expenses or to reduce the rent as long as the defect exists, pro rata to the depreciation due to defect compared to the property’s value as set in the contract. Here, the lessee repeatedly notified the lessor of the defects, but the lessor failed to repair the defects to the point the apartment became uninhabitable in a manner that justified a complete cessation of rent.