Between the NIS 20 a night fleabags in the Old City's alleyways and the presidential suite at the King David Hotel (if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it) is a completely unregulated accommodation sector - short-term rentals and sublets for tourists. With the approach of the High Holy Days, Web sites like www.flathunting.com and www.luach.com, as well as newspapers including The Jerusalem Post are filled with ads for furnished flats by the day or the week, if not by the hour. Miriam Ehrman is one of many Jerusalemites taking advantage of the lucrative niche market by leaving her three-room garden apartment in Rehavia for Succot. Ehrman is asking for $2,500 for the nine days Jews outside Israel celebrate the holiday. "We're considered cheap in Rehavia," she says. "If it's worth it for us, we'll go for Yom Kippur too." Last year she rented her apartment to an Orthodox New York family who would have required several hotel rooms for their brood. Though Ehrman was born in Jerusalem, her parents made aliya from the States and she feels comfortable renting to Americans, she says. This is the second Succot Ehrman and her husband will be moving in with her parents for the duration of the holiday. With a baby, and her husband studying in a yeshiva, money is tight, she says, and the extra cash is a godsend. Asked if she feels odd having strangers stay in her home, she replies: "You do things for money. What can you do?" Ehrman takes a deposit against damages of half the rental amount. She hasn't had any problems, she reports. Tourists like to be within walking distance of the Western Wall and sites like the Great Synagogue on King George Avenue, she says. They also want a kosher kitchen, even if they eat some of their meals in restaurants. Randi Z. and her husband have rented their three-room apartment in Nahlat Shiva seven times in the last two years to families and singles from Argentina, Canada, Britain, France and the United States. "I think we're letting it go too cheap," she says of the $75 a night she's been getting. "We've only had one messy tenant out of seven," she adds. "The family held a bridal shower here, and wow, they must have had a great time." The couple often travel to Egypt when they sublet their home - spending a fraction of the money they earn on a cheap beach vacation in Sinai. For Sam Antonelli, tourist rentals have turned into a thriving business. Operating in a tiny office in a walk-up on King George Avenue near Jaffa Road, for the last two years the retired lawyer, originally from Detroit, has been managing a portfolio of 30 studio and one-room apartments in the city center owned by his son Domenico, who lives in New York. Antonelli's flats primarily appeal to students, who are charged between $400 and $700 monthly based on a minimum lease of six months - a sum that reflects both market conditions and the municipality's student housing subsidy. Students are charged two months rent as a deposit, of which $100 is non-refundable and is used to change the lock and pay for cleaning. That amount is cheap compared to the tariff for tourists, who pay $200-$300 per week. "It's rough dealing with Israelis," says Sam Antonelli, who prefers tourists. "You always get the short end of the stick." As for the money, neither he nor his son has seen a shekel of profit, he says. All revenue has been plowed back into buying more city center properties - and dividing them into three and even four sufficiency studios. While no one would ever say Antonelli's simple apartments are luxurious, his associate Avi Schmidt has specialized in precisely that sector - upscale tourist apartments with granite countertops, washing machine and dryer and air conditioning. The Tel Aviv-born Schmidt grew up in Jerusalem and has been managing a portfolio of apartments here for 20 years . Apart from the five units he owns on Rehov Shamai downtown, Rehov Mishpat Dreyfus in Ramot, and Disraeli and Lincoln streets in Talbiyeh, he manages 14 units for other investors. A stylishly furnished one-bedroom apartment on Rehov Shamai in a building with a new elevator, for example, is available for $63 per night during November. Tourists rent apartments for a variety of reasons, Schmidt explains. While cheaper than a hotel, especially if children require their own room, many guests rent because they want to cook for themselves to accommodate a special-needs diet. Others prefer an apartment because they wish to entertain their Israeli family and friends. Still other clients are businessmen stationed in Jerusalem for a contract of several months, he says. Schmidt and Antonelli are hardly the only operators in the city catering to tourists. The Home Accommodation Association of Jerusalem (www.bnb.co.il) lists 26 bed-and-breakfast inns across the city from Ein Kerem to Yemin Moshe and the Old City. In a sure sign that tourism has bounced back from its nadir during last summer's Second Lebanon War, the Lev Yerushalayim Hotel on King George Avenue has jacked up the monthly price for its suites from $800 last fall to $1,700 today. With visitors packing the city, the hotel prefers renting its rooms by the night, says reception desk manager Anat Avraham. Tourists looking to find a nice apartment for Succot be warned: The supply-demand equation has now tipped in favor of landlords and brokers.

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