Officials move to stop sales of apartments carrying debts

Apartment owners who owe money to their building's house committee and want to sell their apartments will be prevented from doing so if Ramat Hasharon housing official Yochi Sela has her way, reports Sela, who heads Ramat Hasharon's Department of Housing Culture (mahlaka le'tarbut hadiur), has been working for the past three years to bring into effect a law that would stop the sale of an apartment if the owner owes money to the house committee (va'ad binyan or va'ad bayit), and recently persuaded Knesset Legal Committee head Menahem Ben-Sasson to adopt the law and introduce it into the Knesset. According to the report, although owners wishing to sell their apartments must obtain permits from various municipal departments, debts to a building's house committee are currently no hindrance to any sale. Sela said that in her five years in the job, she had dealt with hundreds of apartment buildings and had encountered "numerous" cases in which owners had sold apartments and had left large debts unpaid to the house committee for fees or joint property repairs. She said house committees currently had no way of forcing owners to pay their fees or of pursuing a debt after an apartment was sold. Sela said she had wanted to introduce a law locally to prevent sales from going ahead until house committee debts were cleared, but although the city council had welcomed the proposal, it had no authority to introduce such a law. Sela then turned to the national Association for Housing Culture (Aguda Le'tarbut Hadiur) and several Knesset members, and said she was "happy that Menahem Ben-Sasson saw the importance of the matter" and proposed the law to the Knesset. "This has not been a simple battle and it has taken a great deal of time and investment from me, but there is no doubt that if the law passes this will give me a great sense of satisfaction. It is about time that residents (of an apartment building) should not suffer because of the debts of other residents," Sela said. The report said the proposed law should be accepted by the next Knesset, after the approaching national elections.