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February 14, 2008, Thursday

Rental issues: Rate of increase

Today I will address a question from a reader who has been confronted with a significant increase in rent compared to last year.

The letter reads as follows: "Hello. I hope you can advise on a problem we have. My husband and I have been renting an apartment in Turkey for over two years now. In the first year we paid YTL 400 per month, in the second year YTL 450 per month, but when we asked to renew the contract on Jan. 1 of this year, our landlord requested YTL 550 per month -- in addition to the YTL 20 per month we pay for pool and site maintenance. We thought this was a high increase and asked him if he would consider YTL 500 per month, which he accepted. However, after we signed the contract (perhaps stupidly, as it was of course in Turkish) and offered the first month's rent, we were told we must pay the whole of the year's rent in advance. The first year was paid monthly, but of our own choice we paid the whole amount up front last year. However, this year we would prefer to pay monthly (as far as we are aware we are the only tenants who are being asked to pay the whole amount up front). Can you please advise if the landlord is allowed to insist on the whole year's rent up front and also at what rate he is allowed to increase the rent every year? I understand it is linked to the rate of inflation, but I'm not sure what this rate is and I hope you can help with this as we are reluctant to leave what we regard as our Turkish home. Thank you."

It depends on your agreement with the landlord. If you agreed that the rent should be paid up front for one year, then the landlord may certainly ask for the entire payment. If you agreed otherwise, i.e., the rent shall be paid on a monthly basis, then he cannot ask for the entire sum of the rent to be paid in advance.

You stated that the agreement is in Turkish. You should never sign an agreement you do not understand because it may not be clear what you had agreed to with the landlord. If you used the services of a real estate agent when renting this house, please consult your real estate agent for the wording of the agreement you have signed. I would like to advise the readers of this corner not to enter into contracts in Turkish unless they have an excellent command of the Turkish language or are assisted by a professional. Don't forget that any signed contract or agreement is valid and binding even though it is in Turkish.

As for the rate of increase, I avoid mentioning numbers here because some readers take them as set constants and thereby make mistakes. I strongly recommend you enlist the aid of a Turkish friend and find out the number from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat). If you cannot find it, please e-mail or call me and I will do my best to help you.

Another question is as follows: "How do I get a receipt if my landlord insists on not giving any receipts?"

Don't pay your rent unless your landlord gives you his or her bank account number. The best way to get a receipt is to make all such payments via bank transfer. If the receiving party does not agree to receive money via bank transfer, get a written receipt stating: a) amount of payment, b) date of payment, c) reason for payment, d) full and correct name of the receiving party, e) full and correct name of the paying party and f) signature of the receiving party.

NOTE: Berk Çektir is a licensed attorney at law and available to answer questions on the legal aspects of living in Turkey. Send enquiries to [email protected] The names of the readers are disclosed only upon written approval of the sender.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is intended to give basic legal information. You should get legal assistance from a licensed attorney at law while conducting legal transactions and not just rely on the information in this corner.

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