There is much known public debate related to both religious and political questions of who owns the Land of Israel. It is outside the scope of this article to delve into this complex controversy. However, in practical terms, how does this question impact upon an everyday purchaser of property rights in Israel?
Aliyah Magazine introduces a new series of informative articles by Israel-Mortgage, an excellent starting point for exploring one’s financial requirements when an interest to purchase property in Israel becomes important.
Owning land or an apartment in Israel, is quite different from that which you might be used to when coming from the USA. Private ownership of land is available for only approximately 7% of the Country’s land, since 93% of the land is owned by the State. The law prohibits any transfer of ownership rights from the State to another party (there are some exceptions). Therefore, land in Israel is most commonly leased for long periods rather then sold.
The limitation of transferring ownership from the State to another party was a brainstorm of the members of the 5th Zionist Congress held in the early 1900’s. The law was later adopted by the Israeli government, in the belief that maintaining national ownership of the land would enable a more efficient application of planning principles and prevent the transfer of the land to undesirable parties.
The government body entrusted with managing state-owned land is the Israel Lands Administration. In a normal situation, the land is leased for periods of 49 years with an option to extend the lease for an additional period of 49 years.
Property is identified by a system set up during the British Mandate although not fully completed during that period. With the passage of time however most of the land in Israel has been meticulously mapped and surveyed. The country was divided into sections each with its own unique number and each section is divided into numbered plots. These divisions are referred to as Gush (Section) and Helka (Plot).
In built up areas where, for instance, an apartment building has been erected on a Helka, then each apartment is identified as a Tat Helka (sub plot) and given an identifying number. The rights and obligations of the owner of each unit are specified by Bayit Hameshutaf (Condominium) documents that include plans identifying each owner’s property and are registered.
Anyone is entitled to view any ownership or other right pertaining to any specific lands and can request from the Land Administration to see the deed of any land.
To find out more about getting financing for a property in Israel arrange a free consultation with Israel-Mortgages