Tzvi Szajnbrum
To ease the immigration and absorption process for Olim

Reading the “Small Print” in Israel

The problem is not only the small print itself, but that we are asked to make dozens or more types of contracts every year that we may not even be aware are contracts by law.

The contractual law stipulates that there are three types of contracts and they are all valid with a few exceptions1:

  1. Oral
  2. Written
  3. Any other form of contract2

We are asked to sign here and there everywhere we go: at the bank, cell phone company, the gym, to rent a house, in a hospital and also if we need the service of a lawyer.

Companies in Israel “love” to make you a sign a long term contract. Avoid it at any cost, at least for the first time before you personally know how the company serves their clients AFTER they sign (because in general they are all nice to you UNTIL you sign).

Make sure to always read your contracts before you sign. It is important to note that just because you didn’t notice something was stated in the contract, does not mean you are not responsible for upholding the terms of the agreement. By signing an agreement, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions of the contract.

In the Internet age, it is so easy to find any kind of contract and for free! It is tempting to use a template, but remember that they are created as an “example” only and you must be sure to make it to suit you and your particular case.

Every year we deal with new immigrants using these kinds of contracts and ending in court because the landlord did not provide this or that or (it is the usual problem) refuse to fix this or that because nothing was stipulated in the contract. This is why if you notice something is missing the contract, make sure to get it in writing. If you believe the landlord should be responsible for taking care of a problem in the property, make sure to have written as a term in the contract!

One peculiar problem concerning new immigrants in a rental contract is the termination of the contract. We strongly advise you to have some kind of release or early termination clause in a contract. This way you will not be bound to a contract in which the landlord is fully taking advantage of you, either by neglecting the property or by not upholding his end of the bargain.

One never knows as a new immigrant if the city he just chose to live in is the best for him. Often new immigrants will move to a new home because they landed a dream job.  In this case he will be bound to the contract and it could be for a long period. And he will have no choice but to stay in a less than ideal living situation.

Do not be tempted by any Real Estate Agent pushing to make you sign some contract they wrote or have from a previous transaction. Do not be tempted to receive their “free advice” about a contract. They may be good professionals in their field ,but they are not lawyers. Any attempt by an agent to formulate a contract is a crime in Israel. Be aware of it.

We offer you a free service at Voleh. You can fax your rental contract and we will look it over for you to ensure you understand the terms of the contract. If it is determined that the contract doesn’t represent what you need, we will help you make the necessary changes.


1    Such as: Buying real estate. In this case the contract MUST be a written contract and only a written one.

2    As in the diamond business where “shaking hands” seals a contract.

About the Author
Passionate about helping new immigrants, Tzvi Szajnbrum, Attorney at Law and Notary, founded the Voleh Organization, through which he and a team of volunteers provide “pro-bono” guidance to English speaking new immigrants, helping to ensure their successful integration into Israeli Society. As a former officer in the Israeli army, Tzvi is also able to help lead new immigrants in the right direction regarding the IDF. CEO of The Szajnbrum Group
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