Zilpah, a 60-year-old doctor and new immigrant was given by Misrad HaKlita (Ministry of Absorption) the address of an owner of an apartment for rent. Zilpah contacted the landlady and was prepared to rent the apartment. She was offered two contracts – one in Russian and one in Hebrew. The Russian version was purported to be a translation of the Hebrew contract – but it was the Hebrew contract which would be used and signed. Zilpah did not speak, read, or write Hebrew, as she was a new immigrant.
In the Russian version of the contract it was written that Zilpah would be renting one room in a 3-room apartment. However, the Hebrew contract, which was the one used and signed by Zilpah and the landlady, stated that Zilpah would be renting the entire apartment.
The landlady billed Zilpah for the arnona (property tax) and the electricity and water – based on a renting of the entire apartment. At the same time, she continued to live in the apartment with Zilpah and later invented a pretext to evict her.
Zilpah was left with no recourse and she turned to Magen Mishpacha for help. Our volunteers generously hosted Zilpah in their apartment until the problem could be resolved.
Legal mechanisms to cancel the contract and have returned the 11 checks which Zilpah had given to the landlady, failed. The city's assistance department for immigrants, as well as the Ministry of Absorption, were unresponsive to requests for assistance.
Thus, Magen Mishpacha’s volunteers arranged a meeting with the landlord at the municipality, and under pressure from the volunteers, she voluntarily returned Zilpah’s checks and changed the name on the property tax file to her own, thus obviating Zilpah’s obligation to pay the arnona.
Once Zilpah was thus freed from all her obligations with regard to the landlady and her apartment and other attendant expenses, our volunteers turned their efforts into helping Zilpah find and rent an appropriate apartment, including ensuring she had a fair contract and good landlord.