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      Jerusalem Hopes for End to ‘Ghost Apartments’

      Deputy mayor expresses hope that higher taxes will make overseas owners think twice about leaving Jerusalem homes empty.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 12/10/2013, 4:06 PM

      Illustration: Tourists in Jerusalem
      Illustration: Tourists in Jerusalem
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Dov Kalmanovich (Jewish Home) has welcomed new regulations that will double city tax on apartments that are left empty for most of the year.

      The new regulation is particularly meaningful in Jerusalem, where there are roughly 11,000 apartments that remain empty for all but two weeks a year, he explained. Most such apartments are owned by Jews living overseas who only visit Jerusalem for the holidays.

      “This fact has a direct impact on the price of rent in the capital,” Kalmanovich told Arutz Sheva. “Most of the [empty] apartments are in the more expensive neighborhoods, in Rehavia and Talbieh. Young couples are forced to pay more for rent.”

      The decision to increase taxes could help young adults in Jerusalem, he said.

      “A lot of people around the world have concluded that it pays to own an apartment in Jerusalem and pay tax on it even though they aren’t living in it. Now they’ll have to think twice,” he predicted.

      The Finance Committee noted the issue of “ghost apartments” when voting to increase tax. Committee head MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) said, “The Finance Committee placed as its goal to help solve the housing crisis, among other things by putting city center apartments to use and increasing the supply of apartments for rent.”

      Under the new regulations, apartments will be considered “empty” if they were not used as a residence for at least 9 months over the course of the year.