Lawyers warn against illicit rental price raise

Lawyers warn against illicit rental price raise

Gülistan Alagöz - ISTANBUL
Lawyers warn against illicit rental price raise

As the prices of renting a flat in Turkey have exploded, leaving house-hunters and students in particular in a state of turmoil, lawyers have warned against landlords asking tenants for an interim raise even though they are entitled to a one-year raise.

The rapid increase in rental prices due to limited supply and excessive demand in the market

Limited supply and excessive demand in the market have led to a rapid increase in rental prices, putting not only those who are looking for a new house but also those who are already tenants in a challenging position against landlords.

Some of the landlords who did not want to accept the price agreed and paid by their current tenant in the face of increasing rents started to demand a new price even though they could legally only raise the rent only once a year.

One of the examples of this illicit demand was seen in a closed gated community in Istanbul, where a property owner with more than 100 apartments in the location asked all its tenants for an interim raise via WhatsApp.

“We demand an additional 18 percent rise due to the increase in the real estate market and the fact that our rents are low compared to their peers,” said in a text message sent through the online instant communication app.

When the tenants, who were already given a raise during the contract renewal period, objected to the second raise request on the ground that it was unlawful, the landlord threatened to file a lawsuit against them.

“The previous request was withdrawn. Rent determination lawsuit will be filed for tenants who have completed five years,” the new message stated.

Hikmet Güngör, an Istanbul-based lawyer, called on the tenants not to accept such requests and sign any additional protocols.

“The rate of increase to be made cannot exceed the 12-month average of the CPI. A landlord cannot demand a 30-40 percent raise,” Güngör added.

Ali Güvenç Kiraz, the chairman of the Real Estate Law Association, said that landlords who want to file a rent determination lawsuit on the basis that they find the current rent to be low might not get what they expected.

“It should be kept in mind that these cases lasted for two or two and a half years with the appeal,” Kiraz said, adding that he recommends such a move if there was a large difference between the current and the desired price.

Housing rents have increased by 80 percent in Istanbul and 52 percent in Ankara in the last year alone, according to the data of the real estate evaluation platform Endeksa.

The rents rose to a maximum of 121 percent in Istanbul and 76 percent in Ankara in some specific districts of these two provinces.