Involvement in urban renewal is the preserve of optimists and long distance runners. The establishment of the Israeli government's Urban Renewal Authority - a process currently being realized and in the stages of formulating a Knesset bill - will be an important step in promoting projects for urban renewal. However, the establishment of the Authority itself is not enough. Practical content and powers must be poured into the Authority, in order to make a real revolution possible. Here are the required actions to allow genuine promotion in the field of urban renewal. Urban renewal rests on three foundations: real estate taxes (Ministry of Finance), planning and building (Ministry of Interior), and Real Estate Law (Ministry of Justice). For more than a decade the Ministry of Construction and Housing has coordinated the Committee for Urban Renewal and works between the aforementioned ministries - with great diligence and dedication, it should be said - for the benefit of promoting urban renewal. Setting up the Authority - under the leadership of the Ministry of Construction and Housing - is supposed to allow coordination between government ministries and handling the obstacles that abound. The main challenge will be to create clear, transparent and stable policies that will allow long-term planning and the ability to rely on homeowners, authorities, and developers.

The Ministry of Finance was the first to change legislation in a substantial and consistent way in order to promote the urban renewal sector. At the same time, there remained several tasks in the area of its responsibility. Firstly, an amendment regarding VAT exemption for construction services, which prevented deducting VAT from inputs. The Knesset Economics Committee has in the past few days approved an amendment to the law which when enacted will allow developers to deduct VAT from inputs for construction services provided to apartment owners. With this the circle of projects will be enlarged (more easily) which will be brought into range of being economically worthwhile. Another subject which can currently be found in the private bill stage is the minimum quantity of units to so that a clear and build project can be declared in the tax track. Today, the minimum number of housing units required is 24. For more than a decade, developers in the field of clear and build have been doing "somersaults" - both in the field of planning and building and in drawing up contracts with tenants - in order to reach the 24 unit threshold. The time has come to reduce the number of housing units to 12 at most. The last topic for the Ministry of Finance to deal with is to simplify the range of tax benefits. For example, restricting the tax emption on clear and build projects to just one unit per family, completely ignores that large families live in these neighborhoods that need to purchase two housing units. The situation is even worse in the field of TAMA 38 earthquake retrofit projects. In this framework, every project can create a tax assessment discussion for the developer and apartment owners and the gaps between assessments of the developer and the Tax Authority are substantial. Simplicity creates certainty and certainty saves time, resources and long-term planning.

The field of planning and building, under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior is the main instrument for the success of urban renewal proceedings. Many accept as a fact that the long planning process takes on average six years. But this is not handed down from above like this. It is a question of recognizing the importance of pushing forward planning of urban renewal projects , dividing up authority wisely and allocating the appropriate resources. Seeds of such aforementioned recognition can be seen as part of amendment 101 to the Planning and Building Law, which continues to the tendency to broaden the powers of local committees, and even allows, in effect for the first time, special autonomy for the local committees to promote full planning proceedings in clear and build projects, without needing the district committee at all.

The district committees can promote the field of urban renewal if they will take upon themselves a commitment to allocated designate resources to urban renewal, to shorten timetables for discussions, and most important of all, allow binding planning pre-rulings, from which it will not be possible to deviate except in extreme cases. There are locations that have been around for years alternatively trying to be realized as either urban renewal or TAMA 38. Bother alternatives are appropriate, but in the absence of clear and binding guidelines from the planning authorities both the tenants and the developers might find that they have wasted their time for nothing and worse than that tied themselves up with contractual commitments that will make it difficult for them to fulfill any sort of alternative. The planning process is not the first step on the urban renewal journey, and therefore it is important that it will be undertaken with the understanding that we are talking about a living neighborhood and many rights holders. As part of the planning process, procedures that involve participation of the ordinary public should be applied, while creating separate implementation clusters and economic entities. It should be remembered about the planning process that the land belongs to the apartment owners who expect to see themselves as an inextricable and equal part of the project which is being built.

The Ministry of Justice and the legal system are coping with the central problem in urban renewal procedures the tenant who refuses to participate. The beginning of this confrontation is the Clear and Build Law (Compensation). Rulings that apply the Clear and Build Law (Compensation) are becoming more common from day to day with a clear trend of harsher rulings handed down against recalcitrant tenants. In addition, in the field of TAMA 38 earthquake retrofits, the Real Estate Law (Strengthening Jointly Owned Homes Against Earthquakes) has gone even further and today allows the Supervisor of Real Estate to obligate a "refusenik" to approve construction in a joint property that in substance means demolishing and rebuilding the existing structure. There can be no justification offered for the differences between possible procedures in TAMA 38 and clear and build projects. The tools available for apartment owners and developers must be identical. And if the aforementioned is not enough, as part of the case of Regina Schwartzberg versus Shalom Marin on 24.7.2014, the honorable Judge Solberg asked to consider the proposal of Prof. Namdar to enact laws that will allow "adopting solutions that coerce the minority of tenants refusing to participate. It is up to the Authority to to promote legislative procedures to update the Clear and Build Law (Compensation) and provide options to forcibly evict the minority of refuseniks. Experience teaches us that even at the moment when reaching the yearned for target of beginning to realize the urban renewal project, additional challenges are discovered. Firstly the developer and apartment owners must cope with third parties such as mortgage banks, and private creditors. The mortgage banking system sets out requirements for developers to put up independent bank guarantees worth the balance of the mortgage for repayment, and even more. There is no legal and/or economic justification for this requirement. The situation of the apartment owner in the clear and build procedure is supposed to be no different from the home buyer from a project contractor. A change in this area would save substantial costs and primarily simplify the implementation procedures and reduce the huge resources that have to be invested during the implementation stage.

It is also important to remember to protect the apartment owners who are vacating in order to ensure alternative accommodation for the apartment owners who are vacating, and it would be appropriate to enshrine this in law (Amendment to the Bailiffs' Law) because the securities given to the apartment owners to guarantee apartment rent payments and actual apartment rent payments are rights that cannot be given for foreclosure by a third party.

As part of the assessments for financial support for the project, the developer is required to present a full and systematic proprietary picture. The significance of this is that he must cope with the removal of creditor records, with caveats, registrations as a result of divorce, inheritance registrations and the like. The Supervisor of the joint property should be allowed to appoint an official that will receive documents and to convert the overall list of rights in the form of real estate for simultaneous registration in the housing company's books, while ensuring protection of the overall rights of the apartment rights holder, their creditors and their heirs.

In addition, close to the start of implementing the project, the developer is required to submit requests for permits. More than one clear and build project is made up of joint homes with dozens of apartment owners, some of them refusing to cooperate. Mitigating amendments should be made to the law, which allow promoting licensing procedures in clear and build projects.

To sum up, the government Authority for Urban Renewal faces a considerable list of challenges. Government ministry managers that sit in the Authority's plenum, will work to advance the national interest influencing the welfare and security of many of Israel's residents. Each ministry in its field must operate with a readiness to think creatively "outside of the box," to apply substantial changes in the law for the benefit of the matter and set a binding timetable for the implementation of activities in the area of urban renewal.

The author is Partner in the Real Estate Department at the Weksler, Bregman & Co. Law Firm