A recent local municipal law enacted by the municipality of Tel Aviv which forces homeowners to upkeep the outside of their houses or buildings every 15 years has cause quite a stir. Homeowners objecting to this law have claimed that this law is unconstitutional because it is diametrically opposed to the rules set down in the Israeli Basic Law – The Basic Law Personal Honor and Freedom (basic laws in Israel are considered to be the Israeli constitution).
This basic law deals with honoring an individual’s property and his right to do with that property as he sees fit. Those opposing this new municipal bylaw in Tel Aviv are claiming that it conflicts with the right of homeowners to do as they wish with their property. If they want to renovate they can renovate, and if they want to allow the property to fall into disrepair, then they have the right to do so.
This is not the first law enacted to force homeowners to clean up their act. A 1980 law does just that, as well as another enacted by the Knesset in 1984 which forces homeowners to prevent their gardens from becoming junk yards and even imposes criminal sanctions if they fail to do so.
So is this new municipal by-law unconstitutional?
No. The above basic law deals not only with an individual’s property but also with his honor. An individual’s right to honor includes an obligation on his part to act honorably towards others. This means that the right of an individual to do as he wishes with his property does not include neglecting it so badly that it becomes a nuisance and eyesore to others.
Fulfilling the obligation to respect others means to you need to upkeep your property in a reasonable fashion so that it does not become a hazard to others and it remains pleasant to pass by.