Renting off-campus housing is an attractive option for many students. Monthly rent for an individual sharing an apartment will generally cost US $200-$400, depending upon the size, location, and amenities of the room/apartment, as well as the number of roommates. When renting an apartment, students must take into account additional expenses: electricity, water, gas, municipal taxes (arnona), and the monthly building maintenance fee (va’ad bayit).
Several basic questions to ask before signing a contract:
How much is the rent and va’ad bayit (monthly building maintenance committee fee)?
Rent may be quoted in U.S. Dollars and linked to the current rate of exchange (sha’ar hayatzig) but it is illegal for landlords to request actual payment in dollars.
How are rental payments to be made?
Often landlords require several month’s rent in advance. (The standard request is the first and last month’s rent.)
How is the apartment heated?
Apartments with a high va’ad bayit fee are often centrally heated. Otherwise, there may be private central heating or the tenant will need individual room heaters, which may or may not be provided by the landlord. Using individual electric or gas heaters can be expensive.
Is the water heated by lectricity, gas or solar energy (dud shemesh)?
The difference in cost (i.e., the electricity bill) may be significant.
Is there a telephone?
Installing a telephone line costs money.
Is there a bus line to the University within walking distance?
These buslines go to the Mount Scopus campus: 4a, 17, 19, 23, 23a, 26a, 26, 68, 30 or 46
How much is the lawyer’s fee (if any) for signing the contract?
If you are a member of the Student Union you are entitled to free legal counseling regarding apartment rentals.
How long is the lease?
Can it be legally terminated by you or the landlord?
Is the apartment on the ground floor? Are there metal bars (soragim) on the windows? Is it located on a noisy
thoroughfare or on a quiet side street?
Some ways to look for off-campus housing:
- Check the student bulletin boards on campus located near the libraries and in the lobby outside the cafeteria in the Boyar Building.
- Consult the classified ads in the Friday editions of local newspapers. (These ads are often linked to realtors, who will charge around one month’s rent as their commission fee.)
- Check the Student Housing Board : http://jerusalem-sublet.org/
- Sign up with an agency that will provide you with access to its extensive listings of apartments for rent and to share, for a reasonable monthly fee.