Initially, I got the apartment for few nights in Tel Aviv via AirBnB, however, the service blocked the user for unknown reasons and my reservation has been cancelled. Since I couldn't find similar price alternative for the last minute, the same agent proposed the apartment directly (since I had contact details in the confirmation e-mail). I've checked their website which looked reasonable, so I paid 30% of the deposit via phone as requested (by giving them my debit card details). Further details were discussed via WhatsApp.

Few days after I had an unauthorized charge from AirBnB (unknown user) which was reverted and I had to block my card, which already sounded fishy, however, I didn't have any proof.

The check-in process went without major issues as I was shown the apartment and gave the keys (which state was far from what it looked in the picture, not to mention bugs/cockroaches). After that I paid the full amount in cash on the street since I had to go to the cash machine to avoid giving card details again (nothing was requested from me, no passports as usual or anything else), however when I requested the receipt, the host said it'll bring it in 10 minutes as he needs to go to the office or send it via WhatsApp (at that time he sounded promising). He never came back. His English was very limited and every further request was like: Ok, ok, I'll bring it this evening or tomorrow and he kept delaying. I've lowered my expectation and asked for any confirmation or contract related, however, I've never received anything. Now I suspect that these people rent the apartments illegally.

So my question is, how I should enforce receipt/confirmation of my payment from my booking or my contract from the hosts from which I am renting from in Israel? Otherwise, where I should report it? Is local Israeli police dealing with such situations?

  • Why... just why would you pay a random guy in cash on the street?! – JonathanReez Jan 5 '18 at 16:29
  • @JonathanReez The guy wasn't random, he had and gave the keys, showed the apartment, so we went out to the cash point, as I didn't want to give him the card details. – kenorb Jan 5 '18 at 16:30
  • Why do you need the receipt, your reason will change the proposed course of action? – SIMEL Jan 5 '18 at 19:52
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    If you didn't show your passport (or more specifically, your visa card) then you're almost certainly not going to get a receipt. Israel has VAT, which is not paid by visitors on accommodation. In order for it to be legit, they need the details from your visa... – Doc Jan 5 '18 at 20:15
  • I think the reason you didn't find a similar price at the last minute is the entire operation is some sort of rip-off. And having Air BnB cancel them is another bad sign. – Andrew Lazarus Jan 6 '18 at 0:28

My understanding is that you have no legal evidence you're actually renting an apartment, and from the outsider's point - i.e. police - you might just have found the keys on the street. This might become very complicated, for example, if the apartment gets robbed, or there's any damage - even from neighbors.

I also assume you already understood what should have been done differently; paying with a card is always safer than paying with cash because at least you have some proof of payment, and some possibility of legal recourse.

In this case you have two options depending on what you need the receipt for. Unfortunately neither is perfect. So:

If you need the receipt to make your presence legal:

You can tell the agent (there are many contact ways listed besides WeChat) that you really need the receipt he promised, and since he's not responsive, you are going to the police to report it. This may or may not force them to reach out to you and give you the receipts. The biggest worry in your case is that you have no evidence you have paid for rental (unless you have a WeChat response from him confirming that fact), so you risk to be forced to be paid twice.

And if the agent still ignores you, you can go to the police and describe the whole situation. This is however risky in your case since you have no evidence besides the possession of the key (which again you could have obtained by many different ways), so it is your word against the agent's. This report will likely generate some trouble for the agent, but not likely to get you receipt, and you'll likely have to leave the apartment at least temporarily.

If you need the receipt to claim travel expenses:

Reach out to your financial department, describe the situation, and ask for guidance. They might give you a leeway, or accept your ATM receipt as evidence. After all if you spent several days in the city on business, and didn't submit any lodging expenses, it is obvious you didn't sleep on the street - so the accounting might be able to get this through.

PS. The people most likely are trying to avoid taxes, which is easy since you paid in cash.

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