LEGAL RIGHTS OF THE TENANTS IN LEASE AGREEMENTS IN TURKEY
Tenants rights in Turkey are the legal entitlements granted to the tenant, who is one of the parties to a lease agreement, when the essential elements of a lease contract are present according to the law. Legal tenants rights in Turkey, along with the rights of landlords, form the foundation of lease law. Depending on the type of property, landlord tenants rights vary and often arise from the obligations of the rental law in Turkey. Within the framework of their rights, tenants can make various claims.
Whether one is a homeowner renting out a property or a tenant leasing a home, it is crucial to be informed about the rights and responsibilities held during the rental process. As a tenant, understanding the conditions under which a landlord can evict you or, as a landlord, knowing under what circumstances you can evict a tenant, plays a critical role in preventing potential disputes. Not being aware of these legal aspects increases the risk of encountering unwanted situations for both tenants and landlords.
It is important to emphasize that rental law in Turkey is a broad and comprehensive field. Therefore, a thorough understanding of tenants rights in Turkey, especially in matters such as exorbitant rent increases and eviction, is of great importance for tenants to protect their rights. In cases of disputes and problems related to rental law, working with a “Rental Law Attorney” can greatly benefit in safeguarding renters rights in Turkey.
LEGAL NATURE OF THE LEASE AGREEMENT IN TURKEY
The key actors in a lease agreement are the lessor (landlord) and the lessee (tenant). The lease agreement encompasses elements that regulate the legal relationship between the lessor and the lessee. The lessor, defined under Article 299 of the Turkish Code of Obligations, is the party that, in exchange for a specified fee, grants the lessee the right to use or benefit from the leased property. The lessee, on the other hand, refers to the person who pays the agreed-upon rent for the right to use the leased property. The lease agreement between these two parties is a carefully crafted legal contract that delineates mutual rights and obligations.
Within the framework of the Law of Obligations, the lease agreement between the tenant and the landlord is the fundamental legal source governing their relationship. The lease agreement, as a legal contract containing mutual obligations, places both parties under specific responsibilities about landlord tenants rights. In the event of a dispute, this agreement becomes the most critical evidence before a court.
Lease agreements involve mutual obligations between the parties and can vary depending on the type of contract. Rights and obligations are typically shaped by factors such as the nature of the leased property, its intended use, and the duration of the lease. While the landlord tenants rights are determined by legal regulations, the lease agreement negotiated between the parties defines the framework and manner of their exercise.
These rights establish a legal relationship between the parties and safeguard their interests under law on tenants rights. However, the details of the agreement, including the rights of landlords and tenants, may vary depending on the type of lease. Therefore, lease agreements should be carefully reviewed before being signed, and a thorough understanding of the rights and responsibilities of both parties should be developed.
LANDLORD TENANTS RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE LAW ON TENANTS RIGHTS
Landlord tenants rights are fundamental legal concepts that balance the relationship between parties in rental agreements. The rights of the landlord when renting out their property and the rights of the tenant to use the leased property, along with associated rights, are defined meticulously in a lease agreement.
These rights extend beyond mere rent payments and cover a wide range of aspects, including property maintenance and neighbor relations. Understanding the rights and responsibilities of both parties is essential for maintaining a fair and healthy landlord-tenant relationship.
List of Tenants Rights and Landlord Rights Arising from the Rental Law in Turkey:
The rights of tenants and landlords within the scope of rental law in Turkey are stated below.
- Delivery of the Leased Property: The leased property must be delivered to the tenant on the agreed-upon date in a condition suitable for the intended use, and this condition must be maintained throughout the duration of the contract.
- Use of the Leased Property: If the leased property is used by the tenant for purposes other than the intended use, the landlord has the right to terminate the lease agreement.
- Rent Amount and Payment Obligation: The primary responsibility of the tenant is to pay the rent in full and on time, as specified in the lease agreement. If the rent is delayed for two months within the same year, the landlord can initiate eviction proceedings against the tenant.
- Limits on Rent Increase: The landlord cannot exceed the legal upper limit for rent increases. Rejecting requests beyond the legally determined rate is a right of the tenant.
- Late Payment Situation: The tenant is obligated to pay the rent on the specified date in the lease agreement. However, in case of delay, the landlord cannot demand penalized rent. In such a situation, the landlord can file for eviction if the conditions are met.
- Right of Landlord to Evict: The landlord cannot evict the tenant without just cause. Conditions specified in the Code of Obligations must be met for the eviction of the tenant.
- Preservation of Property: One of the primary obligations of the tenant is not to damage the leased property. The tenant is not responsible for ordinary wear and tear.
- Renovation Costs: The tenant is obliged to maintain the property as it was rented throughout the duration of the lease. Mandatory renovation costs are entirely the responsibility of the owner, but the tenant has the right to deduct their own mandatory expenses from the rent.
- Tenants Rights in Defective Conditions: In the case of significant defects in the property delivered or defects arising later, the tenant has the right to demand the rectification of defects, a reduction in rent, or compensation for damages from the landlord. Especially in the case of significant defects, the tenant has the right to terminate the contract.
- Rectification of Defects: If the tenant is unable to sufficiently benefit from the property during the lease period due to defects that occurred, the tenant has the right to request the landlord to rectify these defects.
- Insurance and Tax Obligations: Compulsory insurance, tax, and similar obligations related to the leased property are the responsibility of the landlord. These costs cannot be demanded from the tenant.
- Obligation to Show the Property: The landlord can exercise the right to show the property to third parties in cases of maintenance or sales, under the obligation of necessity.
- Assignment of Lease and Subleasing: One of the renters rights in Turkey is the ability to assign the use of the leased property to another person, provided that no harm is done to the property. However, in residential leases, if subleasing or lease assignment is explicitly prohibited, the tenant cannot exercise this right.
- Assertion of Rights by Third Parties: If a third party asserts a right on the leased property that is inconsistent with the tenant’s rights, the landlord, upon notification from the tenant, is obliged to take over the case and remedy the damages suffered by the tenant.
- Change of Ownership of the Leased Property: When the ownership of the leased property changes after the establishment of the lease agreement, the new owner becomes a party to the existing lease agreement. The change of ownership does not constitute grounds for eviction unless other conditions stipulated by law are met.
- Deposit and Right to Retrieval: When the tenant provides a deposit as security, they have the right to retrieve the deposit if there is no damage to the leased property upon termination of the lease agreement.
- Annotation in the Land Registry: One of the tenants rights in Turkey is to have the lease agreement annotated in the land registry. By annotating the lease agreement, the tenant secures their legal rights against third parties.
WHAT ARE THE TENANTS RIGHTS AFTER 1 YEAR LEASE CONTRACT IS FINISHED?
One of the most commonly misunderstood topics today is the question of whether the landlord can evict the tenant when the 1-year lease expires and what are the tenants rights after 1 year. Lease agreements are typically drafted for a duration of 1 year in practice, and at the end of this period, the contract automatically extends for another year under the same terms. The landlord cannot demand the tenant to vacate the property based on the expiration of the 1-year lease agreement.
In 1-year lease agreements, the right to terminate the contract at the end of the term is granted solely to the tenant. In other words, the tenant can decide to terminate the lease agreement at the end of the 1-year lease term and communicate this decision to the landlord. If the tenant decides not to renew the lease, they can notify the landlord in writing at least 15 days before the expiration, and the lease will not be extended. The landlord does not have such a right. Tenants rights after 1 year are specified in law on tenants rights.
These regulations have been introduced to prevent disputes between the parties and to protect tenants rights in Turkey. While both the tenant and the landlord should adhere to the agreement, they should be aware of these provisions that provide flexibility in specific situations and act accordingly.
WHAT ARE THE TENANTS RIGHTS AFTER 5 YEARS?
Upon completion of the specified periods in residential and commercial lease agreements, as mentioned earlier, the contract does not terminate automatically. For instance, in a lease agreement that continues for 5 years, the expiration of this period does not automatically result in the termination of the contract.
According to tenants rights after 5 years; if the tenant intends to vacate the property, they must provide written notice at least 15 days before the agreed-upon period ends. If the tenant fails to provide this written notice at least 15 days before the expiration of the lease term, the lease agreement will be automatically extended for another year under the same conditions. This right belongs exclusively to the tenant and belongs to tenants rights after 5 years, and the landlord cannot unilaterally terminate the lease agreement due to the expiration of the term. This right is presented as a special authority granted to the tenant by law.
In the event that the lease term exceeds 5 years, the landlord has the right to file a lawsuit to determine the rent amount. This right is valid regardless of agreements made between the parties. In lease agreements that extend beyond 5 years or are renewed after 5 years, and at the end of every subsequent five-year period, the rent for the new lease year is determined fairly by considering the change rate based on the twelve-month averages of the consumer price index, the condition of the leased property, and comparable rent amounts. In this lawsuit, the judge will determine the rent amount, and there is no limit of 25%.
During the legal process, the assessment will be made by an expert based on comparable rent amounts. In this way, a fair evaluation will be conducted by the court, determining the rent amount and considering tenants rights in Turkey. The judge, while prioritizing the interests of both parties and seeking a fair solution, will strive to balance the rights of the landlord and tenant, taking into account the condition of the leased property and comparable rent amounts, due to the passage of a 5-year period affecting the increase in the rent amount.
WHAT ARE THE TENANTS RIGHTS AFTER 10 YEARS?
One of the most significant tenants rights in Turkey is the automatic one-year extension of lease agreements in the case of non-termination by the tenant in fixed-term lease contracts. However, the legislator, aiming to strike a balance between the rights of landlords and tenants, has introduced a regulation favorable to landlords regarding the tenants rights after 10 years.
In 10-year lease agreements, the landlord has the right to terminate the lease contract by providing notice at least 3 months before the end of each extension year following the completion of the 10 years, without citing any reasons. This provision is a crucial rule regulating the dynamics of contracts between parties and governing the tenants rights after 10 years in long-term lease relationships.
In this context, to protect the rights of landlords who have completed 10 years of lease agreements, landlords are granted the right to request the tenant to vacate the leased property without stating any reasons, subject to a specific notice period.
The right of a tenant who has completed 10 years to resist the landlord’s eviction request is applicable when not subject to the notice periods stipulated by the law on tenants rights. Otherwise, if the tenant fails to provide the required written notice, the 10-year tenant must accept the landlord’s request and vacate the property. In case the tenant does not vacate the property, the landlord can apply to the court to demand the tenant’s eviction. This regulation aims to manage lease relationships fairly and balance legal tenants rights.
RENTERS RIGHTS IN TURKEY WITHOUT A WRITTEN LEASE AGREEMENT
The establishment of lease agreements is ensured by the presence of mutual declarations of will, and it is not subject to any formal requirements. This situation indicates that orally declared intentions, realized through mutual agreement, are legally valid. The renters rights in Turkey without a written lease agreement are the same as those of a tenant with a written lease agreement. Importantly, even though written lease agreements provide an advantage in terms of evidence in potential disputes, oral lease agreements are also legally protected under Turkish Rental Law.
While written lease agreements may provide an advantage in terms of evidence, oral lease agreements are also protected under the Turkish Code of Obligations. Although the existence of a written contract is advantageous for proving, the rights of a tenant without a written lease agreement are legally safeguarded. Therefore, the tenants rights in Turkey without a lease agreement are legally protected as if a written lease agreement had been made.
The primary challenge faced by oral lease agreements is the proof of the contract’s existence. However, residence registration, utility contracts, and other written evidence, along with witness statements, can be used to prove the existence of an oral lease agreement.
In conclusion, whether lease agreements are written or oral, the landlord tenants rights are legally protected. It is essential for parties to eliminate potential disputes by clearly defining their rights and obligations through a written lease agreement and adhering to this agreement.
TENANTS RIGHTS IN TURKEY REGARDING RENT INCREASE AND ADJUSTMENT
The agreed-upon rent amount between the parties increases annually by the specified rate in the contract. However, this rate is applicable, under all circumstances, only if it does not exceed the twelve-month average change rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) determined in the previous rental year. This rule is also applied to lease agreements lasting more than one year. If the parties have not agreed on the rate of increase for the next rental period, the rent amount is determined by the judge, ensuring fairness and not exceeding the twelve-month average change rate of the CPI determined in the previous rental year, considering the condition of the leased property.
Due to the unexpectedly rising inflation in recent years, the Turkish Code of Obligations has temporarily limited rent increases to a rate of 25%, aiming to prevent harm to tenants. According to the provisions of Temporary Article 1 introduced into the Turkish Civil Code for residential lease agreements, the 25% rent increase rate has been extended until July 1, 2024. In summary, there is no legal basis to enforce an increase in rent exceeding 25% until July 1, 2024.
The only exception to not being able to make a rent increase above the legal limit is when the lease agreement continues for more than 5 years, giving the landlord the right to file a rent determination lawsuit.
In case of a dispute between the parties regarding the rent amount, the tenant can apply to the court to obtain a decision on the determination of the rent. The judge determines the rent amount for the new rental year fairly, taking into account the condition of the leased property and comparable rental amounts, for lease agreements lasting more than five years or renewed after five years and at the end of every subsequent five years.
For more detailed information about legal regulations regarding rent increases, you can refer to our article “Objection to Exorbitant Rent Increases.”
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR THE TENANT TO LEAVE THE PROPERTY BEFORE THE LEASE AGREEMENT EXPIRES?
The tenant has the right to vacate the property before the agreed-upon lease term without stating any reason. However, to prevent the landlord from being harmed in such cases, Turkish Code of Obligations Article 325 has been regulated. According to this, when the tenant abandons the leased property without complying with the contract term or termination period, the debts arising from the lease contract continue during a reasonable transfer period in which the leased property is considered transferable under similar conditions. If the tenant, within this period, finds a new tenant who is financially capable and ready to take over the lease relationship, the debts arising from the lease contract come to an end.
However, the landlord is obliged to deduct from the rent the expenses he has been relieved of and the benefits he has obtained or intentionally avoided obtaining by using the leased property differently. This regulation aims to ensure fair protection for both the renters rights in Turkey to use and the landlord’s interests by spreading the tenant’s rights over a reasonable period during the transfer process.
TENANT’S RESPONSIBILITY FOR COMMON EXPENSES AND APARTMENT FEES
In residential and roofed commercial property leases, unless otherwise stipulated in the lease agreement, the tenant is obliged to bear utility expenses such as heating, lighting, and water, and cannot demand reimbursement for such expenses from the landlord. However, as the property owner, the landlord is responsible for debts such as common area expenses, apartment fees, and janitorial fees. If the lease agreement specifies that the tenant is responsible for these expenses, the tenant is obligated to cover these costs.
The landlord can pay common area expenses and seek reimbursement from the tenant, but the tenant cannot be held responsible for expenses related to renovations, repairs, and alterations made in common areas. The landlord cannot request reimbursement from the tenant for fixture expenses such as elevator renovation fees or insulation costs related to the leased property. Additionally, the tenant has the right to demand expenses related to significant changes made to the leased property and the building, especially alterations made to remedy defects for which the tenant is not at fault.
TENANT’S RIGHT TO RECLAIM THE DEPOSIT
When a lease agreement is established, the parties may decide on a deposit payment. According to Article 342 of the Turkish Code of Obligations, in residential and roofed commercial property leases, if the obligation to provide a deposit to the tenant is stipulated in the contract, the deposit amount cannot exceed three months’ rent. This regulation aims to ensure the tenant’s responsible use of the property and provide security to the landlord against potential damages about legal tenants rights in Turkey.
Upon the termination of the lease agreement, the landlord is obligated to return the deposit to the tenant if there is no damage to the property. However, if the landlord claims that the leased property has been damaged, legal proceedings must be initiated to assess and identify these damages. The landlord can use the right of lien on the deposit amount against damages caused by the tenant.
If the deposit payment is made through a bank, the bank is obligated to return the deposit to the tenant upon the tenant’s request within three months after the termination of the lease agreement, unless the landlord has informed the bank in writing of any legal proceedings related to the lease agreement or initiation of enforcement or bankruptcy proceedings against the tenant.
These regulations are established to maintain a fair legal balance between landlord tenants rights in Turkey. The deposit will be securely returned if the tenant uses the property responsibly, but in cases of damages, it provides protection to the landlord.
HOW CAN A LANDLORD EVICT A TENANT IN TURKEY?
It is crucial to emphasize that in the Turkish Rental Law, the presence of reasons specified by law is mandatory for an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. Unless the conditions for the tenant’s eviction, as stipulated by law, are met, it is not possible to evict the tenant through an eviction lawsuit.
The necessary conditions for the tenant’s eviction and the most common reasons for eviction in Turkey are as follows:
- Eviction Due to Landlord’s Need for the Property
- Eviction Due to Tenant’s Neglect of the Property
- Eviction Due to the New Owner’s Need for the Property
- Eviction Due to Reconstruction and Urban Transformation
- Eviction Based on an Eviction Notice
- Eviction Based on Default Due to Non-Payment of Rent
- Eviction Based on Two Consecutive Delays in Rent Payment and Two Valid Notices
In the presence of these conditions, the landlord can initiate an eviction lawsuit, follow the legal procedures, and obtain a court decision to ensure the tenant vacates the property. For detailed information on the conditions and procedures for eviction, you can refer to our article on “Tenant Eviction Lawsuit in Turkey”
HOW TO EVICT A TENANT WHO REGULARLY PAYS RENT?
If the landlord, despite regular rent payments, wishes to evict the tenant, a legal recourse is the “eviction lawsuit based on necessity.” In this lawsuit, the landlord needs to prove, in court, the necessity for themselves, their spouse, descendant, ascendant, or a person for whom they are responsible to use the property. Additionally, it is crucial to follow the correct procedures related to the lawsuit within the specified timeframe; otherwise, the lawsuit may be rejected.
The necessity-based eviction lawsuit filed in the Civil Court requires the landlord, who is requesting the tenant’s eviction, to prove the necessity with concrete and convincing evidence in court. Among these pieces of evidence are factors such as the current condition of the property’s use, the situation of the person in need, and the urgency of the need.
TENANT RIGHTS IN TURKEY FOR URBAN TRANSFORMATION
Tenants rights in Turkey for urban transformation are crucial, especially in areas prone to earthquakes. This process mandates the evacuation of buildings deemed risky for demolition within a specified period, involving both property owners and tenants.
Landlords are obligated to notify the Provincial Directorates of Environment and Urbanization if tenants do not vacate the premises within the designated timeframe. For tenants who fail to evacuate the risky structure and impede the process, depending on the severity of the act, landlords must file a criminal complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
One of the most important renters rights in Turkey in urban transformation is the right to rental assistance. Rental assistance is determined as a one-time payment based on the tenant’s expenses for a 2-month period. Tenants facing the demolition request can apply for rental assistance by submitting their applications to the Provincial Directorates of Environment and Urbanization.
Required documents for tenants wishing to avail themselves of urban transformation tenant rights include a copy of the ID card, a utility bill in the tenant’s name, or a residence certificate proving residency in the risky structure, and a population registration sample based on the address where the tenant can declare they have moved. These documents are crucial for the examination process during rental assistance, ensuring tenants receive the rightful assistance.
COMMERCIAL TENANTS RIGHTS IN TURKEY
Commercial tenants rights in Turkey are protected similarly to residential renters rights in Turkey, as both types of leases are regulated by the Turkish Code of Obligations.
Commercial tenants rights in Turkey are protected similarly to residential tenants rights in Turkey. However, shop owners can evict tenants if the eviction reasons specified by the Turkish Code of Obligations occur. In the case of fixed-term contracts, unlike residential leases, the contract does not automatically terminate at the end of the period. The tenant must provide written notice via a notary 15 days before the end of the contract; otherwise, the contract automatically extends for another year according to law on tenants rights in Turkey.
There is a significant difference between commercial tenants rights in Turkey and residential tenants rights in Turkey. While the rent increase rate is limited to 25% in residential leases, there is no such limitation for shop leases. Commercial rent increases will be based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) 12-month average change rates.
In this context, commercial tenants should be more cautious about rent increases and carefully review contract conditions. Being aware of the protections provided by the Turkish Code of Obligations during the leasing process is crucial for defending commercial tenants rights in Turkey.
LEGAL TENANTS RIGHTS IN TURKEY WHEN THE RENTED HOUSE IS SOLD
The fundamental regulations regarding lease agreements are outlined in the Turkish Code of Obligations numbered 6098. Within this framework, Article 351 of the Turkish Code of Obligations addresses the change of ownership of the leased property, specifically encompassing tenants rights in Turkey when the house they rent is sold.
According to Article 351, if the property rented by the tenant changes hands, the new owner can request the tenant to vacate the premises within one month by providing written notice, claiming that they need the property. The new owner can file a lawsuit for eviction based on the claim of necessity six months after the notification.
The legal tenants rights in Turkey whose rented house is sold are protected by the Turkish Code of Obligations. The sale of the leased property does not automatically terminate the lease agreement. For the new owner to evict the tenant, specific conditions must be met, and proper notification must be given within the designated time frames, based on a legitimate claim of necessity related to the acquired property.
In other words, certain conditions must be fulfilled for the new owner to request eviction due to the necessity of residential or commercial use. If these conditions are met, the new owner can file an eviction lawsuit to remove the tenant from the property according to Rental Law in Turkey.
In conclusion, a lease agreement does not automatically terminate solely due to the sale of the property. The new owner becomes a party to the lease agreement, and the terms of the lease continue unchanged. Legal tenants rights in Turkey whose rented house is sold remain protected.
For the lease to terminate, there must be a necessity for residential or commercial use on the part of the new owner or the persons specified by law, and an eviction lawsuit must be filed accordingly. These regulations aim to balance and protect landlord tenants rights both. To obtain detailed information about the rights of a tenant when the occupied house is sold, you can refer to our article “Tenants Rights When Landlord Sold Property”.
CAN THE LANDLORD ENTER THE PROPERTY WITHOUT THE TENANT’S PERMISSION?
After signing a lease agreement, landlords are prohibited from entering the rented property without the tenant’s permission and consent. The right to exclusive use of the property is transferred to the tenant through the lease agreement, and the rented premises are considered the tenant’s private residence. Unauthorized entry into the property without the tenant’s permission constitutes an intrusion into the tenant’s private life.
Entering the property without the tenant’s permission constitutes the criminal offense of “Violation of the Inviolability of the Residence” under the Turkish Penal Code. In such a situation, the tenant can file a criminal complaint against the landlord by submitting a complaint petition to the Prosecutor’s Office. When the lease agreement terminates, the tenant surrenders the keys to the landlord with a handover report, and the lease relationship comes to a complete end.
WHERE TO APPEAL FOR TENANT RIGHTS IN TURKEY?
In Turkey, tenants can resort to specific avenues for asserting their rights in legal matters related to the leased property. The civil court in the location of the leased property is generally the competent court responsible for resolving disputes between the tenant and the property owner. The competent court is the court where the leased property is located.
Although local rent commissions do not exist in Turkey, it is not possible to appeal to consumer arbitration boards either. However, in cases involving material and moral compensation claims, the competent court, depending on the nature of the claim, may be the first-instance civil court. Tenants are advised to seek legal advice from rental law attorneys for more information and guidance on legal matters.
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