According to official data in Turkey for the year 2023, there are approximately around thirty thousand residences rented for tourism purposes. Additionally, it is common for foreign individuals who acquire properties in Turkey to lease these properties to their fellow countrymen, a practice frequently observed in holiday destinations. This system, often referred to as “Airbnb,” enables homeowners to open their residences to tourists for a fee. Recent legislation and regulations concerning short-term rental properties, attributed to the increasing numbers of such rentals and a decline in hotel stays, have been published in the Official Gazette and are now in effect. What does it mean for residences to be rented for tourism purposes? How can fully furnished apartments be leased for short durations? What is a permit, and how can it be obtained? Is it mandatory to display a sign or plaque at the entrances of short-term rental properties? What are the fees for permits and plaques? Is the approval of neignouring property owners necessary? What are the potential penalties for those who engage in tourism-oriented rentals in violation of regulations? Answers to such questions form the essence of this article.
The short-term rental industry has seen an unprecedented surge in growth due to various contributing factors. The increasing use of online platforms, the rising demand for budget-friendly travel, and the growing popularity of short-term rentals are among the driving forces behind this remarkable expansion.
The “Law No. 7464 on the Tourism Purpose Lease of Residences and Amendments to Certain Laws” was published in the Official Gazette with number 32357 on November 2, 2023. Following this development, on December 28, 2023, the “Regulation on the Lease of Residences for Tourism Purposes” was also published in the Official Gazette.
To fall under the scope of the new regulations, residences must be leased for less than 100 days. Therefore, rentals exceeding 100 days in a single transaction are not subject to these regulations. The provisions of the new legislation came into effect on January 1, 2024. As of this date, individuals engaged in tourism purpose leasing activities are required to apply to the Ministry of Tourism for a permit within one month from January 1, 2024. Applications can only be made through the e-Government system, and physical applications are not accepted.
Tourism in Turkey
In terms of tourism in Turkey, the country is a significant tourism destination with a rich history, culture, cultural assets, and unique natural beauty. It possesses a tourism sector with high-quality facilities and services in health, congress, gastronomy, winter, golf, sports tourism, and other tourism types, capable of competing with other countries in terms of service quality.
The competitiveness of Turkey in tourism depends on its ability to increase its attractiveness for national and international visitors, provide high-quality, innovative, and appealing tourism products and services, increase its share from the international and domestic tourism market, and ensure effective and sustainable use of resources that nourish tourism.
The tourism sector is a continuous job creator and has the least negative impact of technology on employment. Therefore, the importance of tourism revenues in reducing the current account deficit should be emphasized, as tourism is one of the most significant locomotives of Turkey’s economy, generating considerable added value.
In recent years, both globally and in Turkey, alternative accommodation options in tourism have led to a shift towards short-term rentals of secondary residences, emerging as a new subsector in the tourism industry. In this regard, there was a need for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which plays a decisive role in determining and implementing tourism policies, to establish the principles for the tourism purpose lease of residences to individuals and legal entities, including the specifics of the real estate involved.
Aims of the Act
In this context, to document tourism-purpose residence leases and record the income generated from them, the “Law No. 7464 on the Tourism Purpose Lease of Residences and Amendments to Certain Laws” (“the Law”) was published in the Official Gazette with number 32357 on November 2, 2023. The Law, in alignment with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s priority goal of preventing tourism uses outside its control and supervision, and developing the tourism sector with a comprehensive strategy, aims to:
- Document tourism-purpose leased residences and record the income derived from leasing, thereby preventing unregistered earnings.
- Regularly report individuals staying in residences leased for tourism purposes to law enforcement authorities in accordance with the Identity Notification Law No. 1774 dated June 26, 1973, to prevent criminal activities.
- Establish public order through regulatory measures that serve the public interest, such as applying administrative fines to document holders when necessary.
- Create a fair competitive environment, ensuring a reliable investment atmosphere for all stakeholders in the tourism sector.
What does tourism-purpose residence leasing entail?
Short-term residence leases of one hundred days or less are defined as residences being leased for tourism purposes.
Conditions for Tourism Purpose Residence Leasing
The new regulation covering leases of less than one hundred days at a time imposes certain conditions on residences being leased for tourism purposes by individuals or legal entities, either in their own names or through applications like Airbnb.
The regulation mandates obtaining permission from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (“the Ministry”) before leasing residences for tourism purposes and requires the placement of a plaque specified by the Ministry at the entrance of the leased residences. Additionally, apart from the lessor, only certified travel agencies under the Travel Agencies and Travel Agents Union Law are permitted to engage in tourism purpose leasing activities.
To obtain a permit, an application must be accompanied by a unanimous decision from all apartment owners in the building where the independent section is located. In residential complexes consisting of multiple independent sections, a unanimous decision must be made by apartment owners in the building where tourism purpose leasing is conducted, and a copy of the obtained permit must be forwarded to the site management.
Certain conditions are set for an individual to hold a permit for multiple residences. In buildings consisting of more than three independent sections, a permit can be issued for a maximum of twenty-five percent of them for the same lessor. If the number of independent sections subject to permit issuance for the same lessor in the same building exceeds five, the submission of a business opening and operating license is mandatory.
In cases where the building subject to the application is part of a residential complex with multiple independent sections, the unanimous decision of all apartment owners in the relevant residential complex is additionally required and must be presented. For lessors holding a permit, subleasing the residence for tourism purposes or for residential use is prohibited if tenants subsequently sublease it to third parties in their own names and accounts.
Sanctions in Case of Non-Compliance
The Law imposes high administrative fines for leasing residences for tourism purposes without obtaining the required permit as specified in the law. Those leasing their residences for commercial purposes without a permit are obligated to pay a administrative fine of one hundred thousand Turkish liras for each leased residence and must obtain the permit within fifteen days. If the leasing for tourism purposes continues without obtaining the permit after these fifteen days, an additional administrative fine of five hundred thousand Turkish liras is applied.
Cancellation of Permit
The permit obtained from the Ministry for tourism-purpose leasing can be canceled if
- the lessor requests it,
- the leasing activity is terminated,
- a change in the lessor is not reported to the Ministry,
- there is a violation of public safety or general morality, or
- the residence loses the qualifications required for tourism-purpose leasing.
In case of a change in the lessor for reasons other than inheritance, if no notification is made within thirty days after the change is registered, an administrative fine of fifty thousand Turkish liras is imposed. If, following the application of this fine, no application for the transfer of the permit is made within the subsequent thirty-day period, or if the obligations are not fulfilled despite the change in the permit holder being deemed appropriate, the permit is canceled.
If it is determined that the residence does not meet the essential qualifications for permit issuance, an administrative fine of one hundred thousand Turkish liras is applied, and a fifteen-day period is given for rectifying the non-compliance. If the non-compliance is not corrected within this period, the permit is canceled.
In cases where the permit is canceled, the rights of the users of the residences for which the permit is canceled will continue until the end of the contract term.
Report the Identity of Users
Furthermore, lessors engaged in tourism-purpose leasing are obliged to report the identity of users to law enforcement agencies. Starting from January 1, 2024, those engaged in tourism-purpose leasing must apply to the Ministry for a permit within one month; otherwise, the administrative fines mentioned above will be applied. Even if the application is rejected, the rights of existing users will be protected until the end of the contract term.
Guidance and Legal Representation
Tourism-purpose leasing in Turkey refers to homeowners renting their residences to tourists for short periods. Those intending to engage in tourism-purpose leasing must obtain a permit from the Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism. In permitted residences, it is mandatory to display a sign or plaque according to specific criteria. Fees are set for obtaining the permit and plaque, subject to relevant regulations and local arrangements. The approval of property owners, especially in the case of renting apartment units for tourism purposes, is crucial. The consent of the property owners’ association must be obtained. There are penalties for non-compliance with regulations on tourism-purpose leasing, based on the principles specified in the relevant laws and regulations.
Our law firm provides guidance and legal representation services to assist you in the process of tourism-purpose leasing, including obtaining necessary permits and complying with legal requirements.