Legal Updates

It is the land owner’s duty to prevent zoning violations on its property regardless of the authority’s conduct

February 5, 2024

A land owner was held accountable for zoning violations committed by the lessees of the property.

The Court held that the land owner is criminally liable because it did not do everything in its power to prevent the prohibited use of the land by the lessees. Israeli law imposes on a land owner the responsibility and duty of active action to prevent zoning violations on the land it owns. Exemption from criminal liability for such offenses may apply if the land owner did "everything possible" within its power to prevent the offense. Here, the land owner was fully aware of the zoning violations committed on the land by the lessees and did its part by merely "turning the matter over" to the enforcement authorities and demanding that they issue demolition orders. Also, the land owner procrastinated and sent letters only many months after the discovery of the violation and in which it referred to the violations in a casual manner. It is to be expected of a land owner to take independent actions such as: sending warning letters immediately after reviling that zoning violations were been held, monitoring and further demanding letter urging to cease unlawful action and even taking appropriate civil legal proceedings against the lessees, but it failed to do so. In view of its omission, the land owner bears the criminal liability for the zoning violations committed by the lessees.