You can learn about letting a property in Turkey by watching this full-length interview (below) with Turkish lawyer Başak Yıldız Orkun, or by scrolling down and reading the detailed guide that she has written with us.
The video guide below is a playlist – split into several parts. One part will play right after the other.
Will you be letting your Turkish property seriously or casually?
About 60% of the foreigners who buy houses in Turkey let them. About half of those people rent out on a ‘serious’ basis. That is to say, they are trying to make money by letting their property and try to find the maximum rental income each year. The other half let casually: to family, friends and friends of friends. They are looking not so much to make a profit from renting but to defray some or all of the cost of ownership.
There are fundamental differences in the way these two groups should approach the task.
The first group should put themselves into the head of the person they want to rent their property. Which part of the market are they trying to capture? You cannot be all things to all men. The single person or childless couple wanting to enjoy Turkish culture will have very different requirements from the family wanting a cheap and quiet holiday in the countryside, or a visiting student.
Where would your target tenants like to rent? What type of property would they prefer? What features do they require?
This type of landlord should then buy a property, convert it, and equip it solely with their prospective tenants in mind.
The second group should make few concessions to their tenants. After all, theirs is – first and foremost – a holiday home for their own use. They will have to make some changes to accommodate visitors but they should be as few as possible. Perhaps slightly darker shades of upholstery, an area where the owners can lock away their valuables when not in residence, and more sets of bedding.
Most importantly, both groups should provide a ‘house book’ and a visitor pack. Both are a good idea whether you want to let on long term of short term lettings, though the contents will vary a bit.
The house book first gives visitors some guidance as to what tourist attractions and other facilities are available in the area and emergency contact numbers for the inevitable time when someone is ill or the plumbing springs a leak.
The visitor pack gives directions to the property, maps, and other information useful before they set off on holiday or start to live in it.
This guide relates mainly to the first group (the ‘serious’ landlords). I will make some comments directed specifically at the second and they can pick and choose from the other ideas, depending on how far they are willing to compromise their personal wishes in order to increase rental income.
This guide is also aimed mainly towards those looking to let their property to short-term tenants.
Should you use a letting agency to rent out a property in Turkey?
Strangely, the decision as to how you are going to let your property is one of the first that you are going to have to make. This is because, if you decide to use a professional management or letting agencies, it will probably alter (or, at least, expand) your target market and, therefore, the area in which you ought to be buying and the type of property to buy.
If you are going to let your property through a professional management agency, it is worth contacting such agencies before you make a final selection of the area in which to buy to see what they believe you can obtain in that area in the way of rental returns. Better still, they will usually also be able to tell you what type of property is likely to be most successful as a letting property in that area.
They might even come up with better suggestions about both the best area and type of property than those in your original plan.
See below for thoughts about how to choose and manage such agencies.
Do you want to use the agency both to find the tenants and to manage the property?
If you are thinking of finding the tenants yourself then you will have to decide upon your primary market. Most people letting property themselves let it primarily to people from their home country. There are a number of reasons for this. Lack of language skills and ease of administration are probably the most common.
Short-term lettings in Turkey
Many people want to stay in apartments or houses (rather than hotels) when they visit Turkey. As more and more tourists flock to the country, the chance to make some money by buying a property and letting it (renting it out) becomes tempting.
Short-term lettings mean letting your property to several people over the course of the year (mainly during the tourist season) for holiday (vacation) or, occasionally, work accommodation. The lettings will, typically, be for no more than a couple of weeks.
You need to be aware that the world of property rentals is changing quickly. This is true not only in Turkey, but in most parts of the world. Countries are trying to come to grips with companies such as Airbnb, which have caused a huge increase in the number of properties available to let. They’ve also made it very difficult to control the quality of the property on offer and to ensure compliance with the landlord’s tax and other obligations in Turkey.
At the moment, the legality of short-term rentals in Turkey is very debateable. This is mainly because it is very difficult for the landlords to comply with all of the rules surrounding these lettings.
In particular, you should note the following points:
- The short-term letting of property is treated as a business. The business activity should be registered and you should pay business This has, in the past, seldom been done; but there is a great stirring of interest in this field within the Turkish government agencies and there could well be trouble ahead.
- Under the current state of emergency, owners are required to declare the presence of people staying in their property to the police, daily. There is a fine if you fail to do so. The good news is that this declaration can be done online, but it is still a time-consuming task. The authorities are paying particular attention to lettings via Airbnb, which are relatively easy to trace and which the government feels “provide homes for terrorists”.
- Complying with safety requirements: short-term lettings fall uncomfortably between the rules that govern hotels and the rules that govern the regular letting of a home on a long-term basis. This is another area in which the authorities are developing a keen interest.
There is a perception that many apartments offered to tourists on a short-term basis are substandard in terms of the facilities they offer. Of course, the hotel industry is very powerful and so this is a great opportunity for them to take action, strangling their competition, and they are not slow in seizing that opportunity.
- Neighbours complain: neighbours are becoming increasingly vocal about complaining when there are short-term occupants in a property.
This is, perhaps, not entirely surprising. Short-term occupants do not give your neighbours the same feeling of security as they have when your apartment is being occupied by someone for many months; and people staying in an apartment for just a few days or a couple of weeks are, perhaps, likely to be busy enjoying themselves and making more noise than normal.
Complaints by neighbours are another justification used by the authorities for a crackdown on short-term letting.
Make sure that, if your property is part of a complex or community, there aren’t any rules against holiday rentals.
The 2016 law
Law 678 of 2016 lays down rules that owners must follow. Its stated aim is “to combat increasing terrorist incidents, to provide general security, to combat those who illegally enter Turkey, and to fight against the informal economy”.
The law covers:
- Hotels, motels, inns, pensions
- Single rooms
- Daily or short-term rented houses, camping grounds, holiday villages and the like
- All kinds of private or official accommodation
- Private health institutions and rest homes
- Operators of social facilities for religious and charitable institutions.
In other words, almost everybody renting out on a short-term basis.
Owners need to keep details of the identity and the arrival and departure records of every domestic or foreign citizen who uses their facility and to keep those details available, day and night, to law enforcement organisations.
They have to be connected, electronically, to those law enforcement agencies in a way that allows them instant access to that information.
Failure to do this attracts a penalty of TRY10,383 ($2,700/€2,200/£1,900) per day. That’s a lot of money! Those who do not supply accurate data or delay in doing so face a penalty of TRY5,191 per day.
Fines have to be paid within one month.
Business licenses will be cancelled.
There is much discussion about how all this can be achieved.
The holiday season in Turkey
Turkey has quite a short peak holiday season. The domestic demand lasts, in most places except Istanbul, for no more than about two (or, if you are optimistic, three) months and – to make matters worse – Ramadan usually falls within it. It is true that, for foreign tourists, there is some demand for a longer period, but – even for them – there is really only significant demand from June (late May, if you’re lucky) to September.