Everyone has the right to rent their property with the understanding that a contract is signed between the landlord and tenant. Rules apply to both the tenant and the landlord cover security of tenure, rent, rent increases, maintenance, service charges, taxes etc. The tenancy agreement sets out the terms and conditions agreed by the tenant and landlord. A tenancy agreement does not need to be in writing. An oral agreement is also valid but is more difficult to prove. The tenant and landlord have their own responsibilities to maintain, repair and replace parts of the rented accommodation. It is recommended that one should ask a landlord-tenant solicitor (lawyer – attorney) to review the lease agreement with one before one sign it.
Private renting law, which include rights and responsibilities of landlord and tenant, in Turkey might be complicated, especially if the lease contract contains provisions with legal jargon. In such cases, it may be worth your time to speak to an attorney familiar with landlord-tenant laws before signing a lease to ensure your rights are protected in order to understand what a lease contract says and how it will affect you.
An experienced lawyer
An experienced lawyer who practices in this area will be able to:
- Point out illegal provisions
- Explain how certain provisions work
- Tell you if the least provisions are favorable or unfavorable to you
- Suggest changes and additional terms.
Checklist of things to look for in a lease
Here’s a checklist of things you should look for in a lease before you sign it:
- How long does the lease run? One year is typical, but some landlords rent month-to-month, which gives both the tenant and the landlord great flexibility. A month-to-month is ideal if you are living someplace for a short time, if you are in school and move home when school is not in session, or if your job requires you to move a lot.
- Does the lease use the proper language for the individuals involved? The lease might refer to you, the renter/tenant, as the “lessee” and the landlord as the “lessor.” The space you are renting may be referred to as the “premises” or the “leased premises.”
- Does the lease prohibit you from using the premises for a home business?
- Does the lease limit the number of people who can live in the rental property?
- Does the lease prohibit pets? Talk to the landlord about this after he or she has agreed to rent to you, but before you sign the lease. You may be able to have your pet move in with you if the landlord agrees to drop that provision.
- Review the provisions in the lease relating to the end date of the lease. How much advance notice do you have to give to the landlord? If you don’t give the notice on time, will the lease automatically be extended for another lease term?
- What happens if you “hold over” and do not move out on time?
- What happens if you break the lease? The lease may have a provision saying that if you break the lease you will automatically have to pay the landlord a stated amount of money. This kind of provision is called a “liquidated damages clause.” It means that the landlord will not have to prove the actual amount of money damage your breach would cause. These provisions can be very unfair to the tenant. Don’t get stuck with one!
- When is the rent due? Are there late fees? Do you have a little time after the due date to get your rent paid without triggering the fee?
- What are the security deposit requirements?
- Does your state require that the deposit be returned with interest and an itemized statement of deductions from the deposit? Does the lease reflect that requirement?
- Does the lease allow you to sub-let the premises or to assign your tenancy to somebody else? It probably won’t, but if it does, the clause will likely state that the landlord must approve of your sub-tenant. Make sure that the clause also says, “approval shall not be unreasonably withheld.”
- Who is responsible for utilities?
- What are the landlord’s responsibilities to make repairs and perform routine maintenance? For example, who shovels the sidewalk in the winter?
- Is there a clause that says the landlord will have a “lien” on your personal property if you don’t pay the rent or if you damage the premises? Watch out! A “lien” is a right to claim somebody else’s property if any stated condition, such as non-payment, occurs. The lien will give the landlord the right to take your property away to satisfy your debt without having to prove to anybody that you have failed to pay or that the landlord has suffered a monetary loss. In other words, the landlord would not have to go through a formal eviction proceeding. While most courts would decide that the automatic lien provision could not be enforced, it’s easier on you if that clause isn’t even in the lease.
There are several self-help tips that both residential landlords and tenants can follow that will help avoid litigation:
- The parties to the contract should not rely on each other’s spoken promise not to enforce some provision, such as the no-pets provision. Get these concessions in writing and have initial them. You can write them in the margin or cross out language on the form contract. If there are changes, make sure that you have a copy of the lease with the changes and the landlord’s initials and vise versa.
- See the Property Before You Sign: Insist that you and the landlord walk through the premises after the landlord has agreed to rent to you so that you both see what condition its in and what repairs may be required. Make a list of any questionable items, have the landlord sign it or initial it with the date, and do the same thing yourself. Keep the list with your lease and provide a copy to the landlord. This document may prove invaluable if the landlord later withholds money from your security deposit.
- Study the lease terms of the rental agreement carefully and know your legal rights and responsibilities according to Turkish law and regulations.
- If there is a problem on either side, make sure to notify the other party immediately and be open and honest in all your dealings.
- Make hard copies and notes of all correspondence regarding any problems with the property or the tenancy.
Rights and responsibilities
If you’re a tenant in private rented accommodation in Turkey, you have certain rights and responsibilities.
The tenant has the right to:
- live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair
- have deposit returned when the tenancy ends
- challenge excessively high charges
- know who your landlord is
- live in the property undisturbed
- be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent
The tenant has the responsibilities to;
- take good care of the property, for example turn off the water at the mains if you’re away in cold weather
- pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or you’re in dispute with your landlord
- pay other charges as agreed with the landlord, for example utility bills
- repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family or friends
- only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement or your landlord allows it
Your landlord has the right to take legal action to evict you if you do not meet your responsibilities.
Foreigners are taxed in Turkey on income obtained from renting property in Turkey and are liable to a number of other property related taxes outlined below. The tax year in Turkey is the calendar year.
If the property is used for accommodation the landlord has to pay income tax. In case you rent your property annually to an individual or a company you have to file a tax return for your rental income for the previous calendar year to the nearest tax office between 1 – 25 March. The taxes are payable in two equal instalments – the first in March, the second in July. On the other hand, if you rent for short periods then this income will be subject to commercial income tax. You must have a tax account, an accountant, and keep financial books. The income tax for the previous year is payable like annual rental income tax.
If the property is used for business purposes the landlord should make sure that the tenant is paying the Stoppage Tax (Stopaj vergisi).
Local property tax is payable in two equal instalments, the first in May and the second in November. You have to contact your local municipality (Belediye) for further information and payment options. Tax is calculated based on the value of the property and is subject to thresholds set by the tax authorities
Landlord Tenant Disputes
As it often happens, there may come a time during a tenancy when a landlord-tenant dispute arises. These disputes can pop up over many different issues including lease agreements regarding rental property, tenant rights, responsibility for repairs to the property, rent, eviction, and more.
It is unfortunate that not all landlord-tenant disputes can be settled by a simple conversation between both parties to the lease. However, when communication breaks down, there are still steps that can be taken before court proceedings start.
For example, an independent, third-party mediator can be hired to help form an agreement between the property owner and the renter. Although the mediator is often mistaken for a judge, the mediator does not have any authority to bind either party to an agreement and is simply there to facilitate communication between the landlord and the tenant. Mediation services are often available for little cost through our Mediation Centre.
When both open communication and mediation fail, the last resort for many landlord-tenant disputes is in small claims court(Sulh Hukuk mahkemesi). Small claims court can generally only hear limited types of cases, and the cases must involve some amount of money, like rent increase, unpaid rent, or an unreturned security deposit for the rental unit.
These courts do act as a last resort for most landlord-tenant disputes and are structured to provide a quick and efficient resolution to these issues. However, you will need to check with your local courts to see the filing requirements for your small claims court. In most instances, these courts are only authorized to hear cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed a certain amount. If your case does exceed this amount, you will need to file your lawsuit in the appropriate civil court (Asliye Hukuk Mahkemesi).
Get professional legal help with your landlord-tenant dispute
Maybe you’ve had enough of trying to negotiate a landlord-tenant dispute on your own. If you aren’t getting the results you were hoping for, you may need some professional guidance on how to move towards a solution. Consider speaking with an one of our experienced landlord-tenant law attorney to get helpful legal advice.