Experts predict that there will be a major earthquake in Israel at some point in the foreseeable future. This is especially worrisome because many buildings in Israel were constructed before 1980 when building codes were changed mandating the construction of stronger buildings able to withstand an earthquake. If these older buildings cannot withstand an earthquake, many lives are liable to be lost.
In light of this and in order to put more apartments on the market thereby lowering prices, Israeli zoning laws have been changed to make possible urban renewal projects to strengthen buildings built before 1980. The problem was not the lack of laws to enable this but rather how this renovation would be financed. Most residential apartment buildings in Israel are officially considered condominiums and the individual apartments are owned by private owners, which meant that this financial burden would fall on them. As a result few, if any buildings would be reinforced against earthquakes.
The recent changes in the national zoning laws called “Tama 38” places the burden of paying for the renovations on the construction companies to in exchange for the exclusive right to build and sell additional apartments in that building. The apartment owners get a strengthened building, and depending on neighborhood zoning regulations, possibly additional rooms or a new porch, etc. .
This sounds great, but until recently the refusal of even one apartment owner in a building was enough to put a spoke in everyone’s wheel and bring the project to a halt. A change in the law allows for the project to go through based on the consent of two thirds of the apartment owners in the building and the third that refuses can be litigated.
The changes in the law have been implemented in a recent decision, Peri Aharon v. Zuskovitz, in which one apartment owner objected to the project claiming that the construction of a porch for her apartment would compromise her privacy. Her claims were rejected by the courts and the project is going ahead.