First Time Tenant Guide To Renting

Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a tenant or landlord is crucial to avoid headaches later on.

Current laws and regulations lean more in favor of the tenant, and recent amendments have made it harder for landlords to evict tenants.

Most rental agreements in Turkey are carried out via real estate agents, which means you won't have to worry about drawing one up. Although the Turkish Law of Obligations doesn't mandate written contracts, you should refrain from relying on verbal agreements.

Click here for a sample rental contract and here for a checklist of all the possible questions you should want to be covered in your agreement.

Rental contracts in Turkey are valid for a year unless stated otherwise. After the year is up, as long as both parties agree to the contract's conditions and the rental increase, the contract is automatically extended for another year.

For the basics of renting as a foreigner in Turkey, check out this article.


What Are Your Obligations as a Tenant?

The tenant’s most important responsibility is to pay on time and in full. The rent must be paid by the date agreed in the contract, which is usually within the first few days of the month. The amount and currency must be listed, and all payments above TL 500 must be made via bank transfer with receipt serving as proof.

The tenant is responsible for installing and transferring utilities into their name and paying their monthly charges.

As a tenant, you'll be expected to keep your noise levels down, especially after certain hours and if you live in an apartment complex. You are also likely to treat your neighbors with respect, and your landlord will not be happy if you get complaints.

Warning: Before you sign a rental contract for a flat, make sure to ask the realtor or the landlord if it is a "family apartment" (aile apartmanı). This is often seen in more conservative areas, and you may not be allowed visitors from the opposite sex. Even though interfering with the tenant's private life is against the law, it is not worth the hassle.

Before making any significant changes to the property, the tenant must obtain written permission from the property owner. The tenant may also not sublet without consent and written permission.

The tenant is obliged to leave the property. Its fixtures in the condition received and are responsible for any damages that may occur to the stuff out of daily use, except for those caused by the landlord or force majeure.

Cleaning and essential maintenance are also the tenant's responsibility. If you received the property spotless, you should do a thorough cleaning before leaving. Here is a cleaning checklist to help you out.

What Are the Landlord's Obligations?

The landlord is responsible for:

  • Repairing or replacing faulty fixtures in the property (i.e., boiler, radiators, shower cabin, built-in-wardrobes) You can refer him/her to Articles 305 to 308 of the law of obligations. (Borçlar kanunu madde 305-308).
  • *If the landlord fails to act within the specified period after the tenant has asked for defects to be fixed, the tenant can repair it and deduct it from the rent expenses.
  • Paying all taxes and insurances related to the property, including the Compulsory Earthquake Insurance (DASK),
  • Paying all expected or unexpected costs associated with the property,
  • Inform the tenant at least a month before the lease term expires to communicate rental increases in line with the annual Consumer Price Index (TÜFE).

The landlord should respect the tenant's private life and not harass them. Your peace and privacy are protected by law.

Fees Associated With Renting

  • Agency fee: If you are renting via a real estate agency, they will ask for 12% of the annual rent cost as a service fee.
  • Deposit: As a tenant, you will be asked to pay a month or maximum of 3 months' worth of rent upfront to cover damage to the property or unpaid utility bills and rent. You will be reimbursed the full amount or with deductions depending on the state of the property.
  • Notary fees: Although you aren't required to have your rental contract notarized by law, some people decide to seek official registration as a legal means of protection. As long as both parties and two witnesses sign the contract and the date is present, you'll be bound by the term stated in the agreement.
  • Stamp tax: If you get your contract notarized, you will also have to pay 0.189% of the annual rental cost as stamp tax.

How To Terminate Your Rental Contract

According to Turkish law, as a tenant, you can unilaterally terminate your lease if you give written notice to the landlord at least 15 days before the end of the lease term.

Before you sign a contract and terminate it, you should ensure that the property is inspected and all damage to the house or furniture is documented and signed. (Download this document to see what should be on an inspection report.)

You should examine the property with the landlord or their legal representative and sign a document detailing this inspection. If the landlord refuses to cooperate, you can request help from a notary public or apply to court.

Faq: Can My Landlord Evict Me, and on What Grounds?

You may be asked to vacate the premises if:

  • The rental contract has expired, and neither of you has communicated* intent on extending it,
  • The property is sold, in which case the landlord must notify you within one month, and you cannot be evicted for at least 6 months after that,
  • The landlord wants to make repairs or renovations to preserve the value of the property,
  • You are repeatedly late in paying your rent (and have been served 2 notary-certified warnings within a year),
  • The landlord or his immediate family needs housing,
  • You violate the terms and conditions stipulated in the contract or fail to maintain good relations with your neighbors.

If an eviction case is filed against you on solid grounds and you have not paid your rent in due time or have failed to evict, you will have 15-days after a notice has been served before you are forcefully removed.

Solving Disputes

You may find yourself embroiled in a dispute with your landlord because they cannot return your security deposit. After all, the property is "damaged." Or you may find yourself in a situation that amounts to unlawful termination of your contract based on claims that you were not complying with the rules.

In such cases, if you fail to solve it amicably, you may decide to take your case to a Civil Court of Peace. Before taking action, it is best to consult a legal professional.

Click here to download a copy of the Turkish rental law.