If expats are willing to negotiate, use common sense, and keep their wits about them, finding suitable, well-priced accommodation in Turkey should be a straightforward process. Housing is widespread and varied, with many great deals to be found. It is also a feasible and popular option for expats to buy property in Turkey, as property rates are fairly low.
Types of accommodation in Turkey
There are many types of accommodation available in Turkey, from flats and apartments to houses, condominiums and luxury villas. The price of property in Turkey varies greatly according to the type and quality of a residence, its location, how recently it was constructed, and whether or not it has parking facilities (parking space is at a premium in Turkish cities, especially in Istanbul). As can be expected, property prices are generally higher in urban areas than in rural areas.
There are no specific expat areas in Turkey, although expats moving to Istanbul might want to check out the districts of Nişantaşı, Teşvikiye and Cihangir. These all offer a good range of accommodation options, and at the same time are vibrant parts of the city to live in.
Finding accommodation in Turkey
There are several online property portals for finding accommodation in Turkey. Expats should also consider engaging the services of a reputable real-estate agent when looking for a place to rent. The vast majority of Turkish estate agencies will have a dedicated rentals division. Not all agents will be able to speak English, so it's worth trying to find an agent who is more experienced in dealing with expats.
Renting accommodation in Turkey
Finding suitable accommodation in Turkey should be a straightforward process, but expats should do some research before leaving their home country. Most expats use online real-estate portals to get an idea of the properties available, but it would be a good idea to also contact a local estate agent (emlak) who is more familiar with the rental market in Turkey.
As with most aspects of life in Turkey, negotiation is key when renting accommodation. Points like the monthly rental fee and the deposit to be paid can all be negotiated with the landlord. If one lacks the stomach or the skills to do it alone, one can ask the real-estate agent to negotiate these points.
Furnished or unfurnished
Rental properties in Turkey can either be furnished or unfurnished as both are equally available. Furnished apartments and villas often include everything from beds to cutlery and crockery. Many expats prefer renting fully furnished accommodation as it saves them time and the money involved in either transporting furniture from their home countries or buying it once in Turkey. That said, furnished accommodation will be more expensive than unfurnished and it also usually requires a larger deposit.
The rental process
The rental process in Turkey depends on the route expats choose to take. Most expats will research properties online and contact some local estate agents who will set up viewings. The estate agent will help with any negotiating to reach an agreement with the landlord, and will then draw up a rental contract. The deposit and the first month’s rent need to be paid before the start of the tenancy.
If one chooses to rent accommodation directly from a landlord, the process is fairly straightforward and more relaxed. Expats should nevertheless uphold a formal relationship with their landlord and ensure they still get a signed and notarised rental contract. This will help them avoid any misunderstanding that could come up in the future.
Rental agreements in Turkey don’t necessarily follow a specific form or set of requirements. When renting directly from the landlord, a verbal agreement is often made, but it is advisable to secure a written tenancy contract. This can be used to document the lease term, rent and deposit.
The period of a long-term lease agreement is often negotiated between the landlord and the tenant. Long-term rental contracts are typically signed for one year, but expats should also note that rental contracts will renew automatically if neither party gives notice 15 days before the end of the lease term. There is also a rental increase for each year the contract is extended. This rate should be agreed upon when the contract is drawn up.
Tenants should ensure that they understand all the terms and conditions laid out in the contract, and if there are any uncertain clauses these should be sorted out and amended before signing anything.
The tenant will likely have to pay at least one month's rent as a deposit, as well as one month's rent in advance to secure their new apartment. The deposit is reimbursed after deductions have been made to cover damage caused by the tenant or unpaid utility bills at the end of the term of the lease agreement. Agents will also charge a fee for their services, which is also normally negotiable.
Whether or not the tenant is liable for utility bills in Turkey will depend on the agreement made with the landlord. Sometimes these costs are included in the monthly rental price, and sometimes not.
Some landlords will arrange all utility services themselves. Others will leave the responsibility to their tenant. In rare cases – mostly when renting directly from an owner – utilities may be included in the monthly rent. Expats should ensure they understand the arrangement before they move into their accommodation.
Utilities can be paid at banks or with automatic payments through one's bank account. Automatic payments are the most convenient option. These can easily be arranged by visiting the bank with a copy of the bill. Expats should never make a payment to someone who comes to the door claiming to be an agent as utilities are never paid like this.