If you don't speak Turkish, the first thing to do is to find a friend or a property agent who does. Turks generally go out of their way to help foreigners, and many business owners at least have someone nearby who speaks enough English to get the job done.
By using the Turkish property listings, you'll find better deals than you would on English-language websites directed at foreigners. See the External Links section for websites which have property listings. Some have English versions, and some don't. You can use our Guide to Turkish Property Terms (see the links at the bottom) to understand what you're reading. If you check the listings daily, you may find a great place to live before anybody else does. And by printing out the listings you like, you'll have handy information in hand for your apartment shopping trip.
National and Local Newspapers
You can go to a local newsstand and find out what hard-copy newspapers are circulated in the area, both national and local papers. Find out on what day the new property listings are published. On that day, pick up a paper early, and be ready to start making phone calls at 09:00 AM. Good properties go fast.
Property agents, or emlak, are plentiful in Turkey, and they come in all sizes. They are a handy resource to find quality properties. Visit several of them, since there is no central directory of properties for rent, and each agent will have different apartments available.
Turkish property agents get a commission for the properties they rent, equivalent to one month's rent, paid by the renter. If an agent doesn't have what you need but knows of another agent who does, and if you rent from the other agent, the two agents split the commission. For that reason, property agents will first show you their properties (sometimes including properties with characteristics you said you didn't want) before they show you those of competitors.
Using All of the Above
If you find in the internet or newspaper listings that an attractive apartment is being advertised by a particular property agent, you can also ask that agent to show you the properties of other agents which you found in the listings. This can save you the time of making appointments and finding addresses.
Walking or driving around a neighborhood where you would like to live ls also a good way to find a place to live. Look for a sign which says kiralik (kee-rah-look), which means "for rent." You'll also see signs which say satılık (sah-tah-look), which means "for sale." Another important term is sahabinden (sah-ha-been-den) which means "from owner." The name and telephone number of a property agency or the owner will be on the sign.
Have a good look around the property to make sure everything is in good order. Include every detail in the contract, so the landlord can't claim compensation from you when you move out. Some landlords can be very picky, and will look for any excuse to retain part of the deposit.
If there is anything in the apartment you don't want to stay and don't intend to turn over to the landlord at the end of the lease, have the landlord remove it. Do not discard anything thinking the landlord will be okay with it. An old rickety set of shelves that you remove while occupying the premises may be later claimed by the landlord to be an antique given to him by a some beloved deceased relative, and used to extort your deposit from you.
Previous Owners Will Have Removed Everything Which Was Not Nailed Down, and Some Things That Were
You will find that any former Turkish tenants have taken everything but the kitchen sink (they do, however, sometimes take the faucets). Even light fixtures may be removed, leaving a bare wire protruding from a hole in the ceiling. The water heater and other such fixtures will likely have been removed.
In cities, all apartments have a similar layout. The kitchen and salon (living room) face the outside, and the bedrooms are on the inside. Typically there is a large master bedroom with the other bedrooms being smaller, sometimes much smaller. The washing machine goes in the bathroom. Use of electric clothes driers is rare but gaining in popularity, so there might not be room for a washer and a drier in the bathroom. Stacked washer and drier combination units are available for this purpose, if the water heater (normally attached to the wall in the bathroom) doesn't get in the way.
Turks like balconies (who doesn't?). You might find that even your kitchen and bedroom have a balcony. Balconies are usually where clothes are dried, either on lines attached to the building walls or on collapsible clothes drying racks that are widely available. Turks sometimes sleep on their balconies during warm weather.
Many Turkish apartments don't have closets. So you will have to buy a wall unit to store your clothes.
You will also have to buy curtains. See our article on furnishing and equipping your home for ideas on how to get set up in your new place.
Some landlords in Turkey will do little or nothing to repair anything that needs repair or upkeep. They will expect you to pay repairs, of everything, including sinks, toilets, plumbing, and electrical wiring and fixtures. One option to deal with this is to deduct the cost of any repairs you have to make from the rent, and provide the landlord with a fatura (invoice), for the cost of the repairs. Your landlord may object to this, but it is doubtful that he or she would ever go to court about it, because of the amount of time court cases take in Turkey. Besides that, the judge involved would be unlikely to side with the landlord. To be on the safe side, though, it's a good idea to have a clause for this placed into the rental contract.
Important! When you apply for a residence permit, the Göç İdaresi Genel Müdürlüğü (Directorate General of Migration Management, or DGMM), will require a copy of your landlord's identification card as part of the documentation you need to prove you have an address. So make sure the landlord understands this and is willing to provide one.
Once you find a place that you like and can afford, try to negotiate the rent to a lower price. A few minutes of haggling may save you a lot of money. Once you reach an agreement, you will sign the rental contract.
The Rental Contract
Property rental contracts in Turkey are rather standard, and can be bought in a stationery store. But make sure you have someone translate it for you so you know exactly what you are signing.
The typical Turkish rental contract is a four-page document (one large page folded in half). On the contract's pages are the following:
Page 1: Landlord and renter personal information and the terms of the rental, such as duration and the amount of rent.
Pages 2 and 3: Covers the terms of the rental agreement.
Page 4: A record of payments. Each time you pay, you record the payment amount and date, and sign it with your landlord. If you deposit the rent into the landlord's bank account, have the bank add a note that the payment is for rent (kira). Save the deposit receipt. This bank deposit receipt can also serve as proof of payment.
Additional Agreements: If you make any additional agreements with the landlord, make sure they are in the contract, because your friendly and amiable landlord may not be so lenient later.
Terminating the Contract
According to the Turkish code of obligations, you must provide 15 days notice, in writing (translated to Turkish) before the anniversary date of the contract if you want to terminate it. If you don't do this, the contract will automatically renew for the period set in the contract (as in another year) and you will be legally bound to pay the extra year's rent whether you are living there or not. When you deliver written notice, take two copies. Sign both and also have the landlord sign both. Keep one copy as proof of notice.
Some tenants think they can just forfeit the deposit and vacate the property any time they want. This is not so, and a landlord can take you to court, if he or she wants to go through the trouble, and successfully sue you for the remaining balance due on the contract. If you think you might need to vacate the property some time in the middle of the contract, have a "get out early" clause written in to the contract to protect yourself. If you want to renew the contract on a monthly basis, make the new contract so it expires in one month. In that case it will automatically renew every month (instead of every year).
Although the deposit is often the equivalent of one-month's rent, its purpose is to cover the repair of any damages, and not non-payment of rent. While legally it is limited to a maximum of three month's rent, it can be negotiated, and you should never pay any more than reasonably necessary.
Important! If you do decide to hand over cash to your landlord, beware of any request for an excessively high deposit. Some landlords ask for a high deposit amount because they intend to keep it when you vacate, using any excuse to not refund it, assuming that you are at a disadvantage and unlikely to sue them to get it back.
The proper way to pay a deposit is not by handing cash to the landlord. According to the most recent version of Turkey's Code of Obligations (Turkish law), you and your landlord should go to a bank and put the deposit into a kira depozito ortak hesabı (rent deposit joint account). If you do it that way, then the bank, by law, must return it to you upon request after three months of the date you vacate the property, unless the landlord informs the bank, in writing, that there is an active lawsuit against you for damages. If your landlord balks at this, don't rent from that landlord.
If you pay your rent in Turkish lira, your landlord cannot legally raise your rent more than the yearly increase in Turkey's wholesale price index. If you pay in foreign currency, your landlord cannot raise your rent for five years.
Aydat, the Kapıcı, and Yönetici
Aydat (pronounced like "eye-dot"). It is a monthly payment which covers common area lighting, cleaning, elevator maintenance, and the salary of the kapıcı (kah-puh-juh), if there is one.
The kapıcı (literally translated "door man") looks after the building and maintains it. He will almost always live on the ground floor of the apartment. He may also do additional duties like paying your utility bills, getting you a loaf of bread and a paper in the morning, and even fixing things in your house for a small fee. The main thing you would need to be careful of when dealing with the kapıcı is asking him to do things which are beyond his expertise. For example, your kapıcı is not a car mechanic (if he could fix cars, he wouldn't be a kapıcı!). For work which requires a professional, such as electrical work, hire a professional.
The yönetici (yuh-neh-tee-jee, manager) is a resident who collects the aydat and makes the required payments.
The landlord will sometimes keep the utilities in his or her name, since there is no penalty or impact on one's credit rating for non-payment. The utility is simply shut off, and a fine is paid to restore it. If you get the utilities in your name, you can pay them at various banks or at the Turkish post office (PTT). On the back of your utility bills is a list of places where you can pay them. Some of the banks only take these payments in the morning or afternoon hours, depending on their policy. The water bill needs to be paid at the water department at the belediye (beh-leh-dee-yeh), or municipality.
You can have your utility bills automatically paid by your Turkish bank account. To do this, go to your bank and take your utility bills with you, so they can arrange for automatic payments. You can also give the bills and the required cash to your kapıcı and have them pay them for you-this is a common practice in Turkish apartment complexes.
Most every city and town also has a consolidated bill-paying shop. For a small fee, you can pay all of your utilities there, at one time.
If you're single, you may find that some Turkish landlords won't rent to you. Don't take it personally. Some Turks are rather traditional, and don't want to rent to anyone but a married couple or a family.
Furnishing and Equipping Your Home: A guide to finding white goods (appliances), furniture, and other helpful equipment for setting up your home in Turkey.
Renting in Turkey Forum: Our forum devoted to renting apartments or properties in Turkey. If you have a question, please ask it there.
Guide to Turkish Terms for Buying or Renting Property
www.sahibinden.com (sahibinden means "from the owner," but you'll also see property companies advertising there as well. Look for "Emlak" (real estate, or property) and "Konut" (Residence)
www.hurriyetemlak.com: Look for "Konut" (Residence). It has English listings.
www.milliyetemlak.com: This one has English listings also.
www.turkstat.gov.tr: Here you can find the Producer Price Index (PPI) for Turkey. If your landlord wants to increase the limit, it cannot exceed the percent change in the PPI by law.