This month sees the start of a new section taking on legal issues. For the moment we are selecting common topics and offering practical information, alongside good solid advice, to help you out of difficulty or, better still, stop you getting in to a mess in the first place.
This time, having dealt with similar cases recently, I am touching on the subject of property rentals both as a landlord and as a tenant. Let’s discuss taking on a tenancy as that’s more straightforward.
The law in Turkey comes down favourably on the side of the tenant. Similar to Western Europe a sitting tenant cannot be legally removed from a property without a court order which can take upwards of six months to be obtained by the property owner. In the meantime, the landlord cannot, legally anyway, interfere with any part of the dwelling. He can’t, for example,
turn off the water or electric. He can’t prevent access to the property and he can’t enter the rented part without agreement of the tenant.
All this applies even if the rent payments have stopped. Any breach of theses rules should be a matter for the police as they are criminal acts. It may sound all in the tenants favour but you have to remember one vital point. Unless the tenancy agreement is recorded at the Notary office and registered with the Land Registry, it is typically not enforceable. That means that if you have paid to rent a place for a couple of years and the owner sells it, the new owner can apply to have you evicted if the contract was not registered, even if you paid all the rent up front.
The more risky proposition of being a landlord yourself should not be taken lightly. Most tenants are looking for fairly short term rentals, six months to a year. Within the scope of the law, if they just decide not to pay there is not really much you can do unless you have taken some important precautions at the outset. Given the possibility of having to take legal action to remove them could end up with the whole experience costing you thousands instead of earning you money.
It is important to have a good contract drawn up that clearly lays out the rights and responsibilities of both sides. As far as the payment of rent is concerned, the best scenario is to take some form of security. Although not always practical, collecting the rent up-front for the whole period plus a reasonable refundable deposit against damages will most probably result in a happy experience. Failing that you could get a third party, perhaps a family member, of the tenant to provide a suitable guarantee so that in the event of a problem the responsibilty falls on them to pay up. If you are keen to rent and have a limited choice of tenants at least you should follow the rule of ‘little and often’.
Those tenants who can neither provide advance payment or third party securities will probably be living from month to month or even week to week. In those cases small regular payments, even weekly, are the easiest for them to manage and will help prevent arrears building up. Taking that approach has the added advantage that should a problem arise it will be spotted early on to give both sides the chance to address the situation.
Although the prospect of earing an income for your property is appealing, you should not enter into it lightly and you are always strongly advised to seek the assistance of experienced advisers before committing yourself to any agreements.