Short-Term Rental Regulations in Turkey: New Legal Framework and Impact on AIRBNB Rentals

The significance of tourism in the global economy and the changing habits of travel have made short-term residential rentals a popular alternative among accommodation options. The rise of platforms like Airbnb and the rapid growth of the sector have begun to render existing legal regulations insufficient, necessitating new legislation in many countries, resulting in the new Short-Term Rental Regulations in Turkey. Under the law numbered 7464, titled “Law on the Tourism-Purposed Leasing of Residences and Amendment of Other Laws,” new norms and obligations detailing tourism-purposed short-term residential rentals have been regulated and came into effect with its publication in the Official Gazette on November 2, 2023.

The new law aims to place short-term rental transactions within a certain legal framework, contribute to the regulation of the tourism sector, and establish clear and understandable rules for both property owners and tenants. With this law, issues such as the obligation to obtain a permit for the tourism-purposed short-term leasing of residences, administrative sanctions, and the characteristics of the permit have been legally structured.

I. Purpose and Scope of the New Short-Term Rental Regulations in Turkey

The Law No. 7464 regulates the short-term rental of residences for tourism purposes and ensuring this process is subject certain rules and licenses.It establishes the legal foundation for the leasing of residences to tourists and other visitors for short-term periods and aims to keep this process under control. The new Short-Term Rental Regulations in Turkey, which covers rentals of up to 100 days, excludes longer rentals from its legal scope, aiming not to affect the traditional long-term residential rental market.

In this context, the law brings regulations on issues such as the obligation to obtain a permit, certain obligations for properties with a permit, and administrative sanctions for those who fail to meet these obligations. However, it also imposes rather strict rules and requirements to obtain a license and permit, which can hinder short-term rentals such as Airbnb.

II. Characteristics of the Permit

Article three of the law details the characteristics and the process of obtaining the permit, one of the most important elements of tourism-purposed residential rentals. Obtaining a permit is a mandatory step for tourism-purposed rental operations and must be performed before entering into a contract. To obtain a permit, a unanimous decision by all shareholders of the building where the residence is located is required, which is especially important in multi-story buildings. This requirement will affect many short-term rental units, especially those listed in e-commerce sites such as Airbnb, as most of the units listed are apartment flats. Additionally, the obligation to obtain this permit and display the plaque lies directly with the lessor, and this process operates according to the procedures and principles determined by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

III. Properties and Individuals Subject to the Turkey Short-Term Rental Law

a. Are Airbnb Rentals Subject to the Permit?

The permit mechanism, a cornerstone of the regulations brought by the law, clearly defines tourism-purposed short-term residential rentals and outlines the legal boundaries of this process. Rentals subject to the permit are limited to a maximum of 100 days (including Airbnb rentals), and rentals exceeding this duration are kept outside the scope of the law. This is an important point for property owners who wish to rent their residences during the tourism season, including short-term rentals via e-commerce sites and listings such as Airbnb.

Furthermore, even if rental contracts are made for periods longer than 100 days, the situation where the same residence is rented out more than four times within a year from the date of the first contract is separately regulated by the law and such rentals are also subjected to the permit. This rule aims to prevent property owners from manipulating contract durations to bypass the 100-day limit.

b. Who is Obliged to Obtain the Permit?

The obligation to obtain a permit is the responsibility of property owners and any natural or legal person intending to lease residences for tourism purposes. This document proves the existence of an official permission for the rental activity and that the residence meets certain standards. Therefore, every lessor wishing to rent their property for tourism purposes must have obtained this document before signing the contract.

The procedures required to obtain a permit and the special conditions that must be considered in this process are explained in detail in the law. For example, if the residence is in a building consisting of more than three independent sections, a permit can be issued on behalf of the same lessor for no more than twenty-five percent of the building, and additional documentation may be required if a permit is sought for more independent sections.

IV. Permit Application Conditions and Process

a. Approval of Proprietors and Application Process

Under the new Short-Term Rental Regulations in Turkey, pertaining to short-term residential rentals for tourism purposes, a decision unanimously made by all proprietors of the building in which the property is located is required to obtain a permit. This decision confirms the suitability of the property for tourism-based rental activities and must be presented to the relevant authorities during the application. In buildings or complexes with multiple independent sections, only the proprietors of the building where the independent section intended for tourism-based rental is located are subject to this approval process. A copy of the decision must also be delivered to the site management.

This requirement represents an important step, especially in buildings with many shareholders. The consent of all proprietors is critical to maintaining the building’s aesthetic and social structure, preventing noise and disorder, and protecting common living spaces.

b. Required Documents and Review

In the application for a permit, documents demonstrating the property’s compliance with fire, health, and safety standards must be provided, along with the unanimous decision of the proprietors. The application file must also include evidence that the property meets the minimum accommodation service standards and other relevant legal documents.

During the review process, the completeness and accuracy of the documents are evaluated, as well as the property’s physical conditions and the suitability of the services provided to tourism standards. This process serves as a security certificate for the use of the property for tourism purposes and verifies its suitability for rental purposes.

c. Obtaining and Renewing the Permit

Once obtained, the validity period and renewal conditions of the permit are determined within the framework of legal regulations. A renewal application must be made before the permit expires, and any changes must be reported to the relevant authorities.

V. Obligations and Sanctions for E-Commerce Sites and Platforms

A significant portion of short-term rental transactions for tourism purposes is conducted through e-commerce sites and various online platforms. The new legal arrangement defines the obligations of these platforms and the sanctions they will face if they fail to fulfill these obligations.

a. Responsibilities of E-Commerce Platforms

E-commerce sites, platforms, and other intermediary service providers are authorized to advertise only properties with a permit. These platforms are prohibited from publishing listings of properties without a permit. They are responsible for continuously checking the accuracy and currency of the permit information in their listings. The completeness and up-to-dateness of this information ensure that the platforms meet their legal obligations and allow users to transact confidently. In this context, platforms are required to clearly indicate the permit number in their listings and keep this information up to date.

b. Sanctions for Platforms that Violate Obligations

The new Short-Term Rental Regulations in Turkey imposes serious financial sanctions on e-commerce sites and platforms that publish listings without a permit or fail to meet legal requirements. These sanctions are designed to ensure that platforms adhere to the legal framework and guarantee that rentals are conducted in accordance with the law. Under the law, platforms may face severe administrative fines for publishing listings without a permit or breaching legal conditions.

The process also involves additional responsibilities for platforms, such as regular inspections and informing users about legal requirements. The implementation of these sanctions is crucial for increasing compliance with regulations and ensuring transparency in the sector.

This section of the law mandates a significant compliance process for both property owners and e-commerce platforms and aims to bring more organized and reliable structures to short-term rental transactions for tourism purposes.

VI. Sanctions and Administrative Fines for Non-Compliance

a. General Sanctions noted in the Short-Term Rental Regulations in Turkey

The new Short-Term Rental Regulations in Turkey clearly defines the sanctions and administrative fines to be applied in the event of non-compliance with obligations in the area of short-term residential rentals for tourism purposes. These sanctions aim to enhance the deterrent effect of the law and ensure order in the sector.

b. Renting Without a Permit

Property owners who conduct short-term tourism rentals without obtaining a permit as per the Short-Term Rental Regulations in Turkey may face administrative fines of up to one million Turkish Lira. The amount of this fine can vary depending on the nature and extent of the violation.

c. Renting for More Than One Hundred Days

Property owners who enter into rental contracts for periods longer than one hundred days, yet within a year from the date of the first contract, rent out the same property more than four times, are subject to a one million Turkish Lira administrative fine. The Short-Term Rental Regulations in Turkey aims to control situations that exceed the rental duration and frequency outlined in the law.

d. Responsibilities and Penalties for E-Commerce Platforms

E-commerce sites and platforms that publish property listings without a permit, provide misleading information, or engage in behaviors contrary to legal regulations also face severe administrative fines. These fines are intended to ensure that platforms take their responsibilities seriously and protect the rights of consumers.

e. Implementation of Administrative Fines

The application of administrative fines is carried out by the relevant ministry and governorships, and the provisions of the relevant legislation apply to the finalization and collection of fines. The magnitude of the fines plays a significant role in preventing violations and promoting adherence to the law.

f. Additional Measures in Case of Violation

Sanctions extend beyond monetary fines and may include additional measures if necessary. For instance, more severe sanctions, such as the suspension of activities or cancellation of the permit, can be applied in cases of repeated violations.

g. Appeal and Correction Processes

There is the possibility of appealing against penalties, and correction and compliance processes are envisioned for property owners and platforms found to be in violation of obligations. These processes provide an opportunity to rectify violations and prevent the same infractions from recurring in the future.

This section of the law is intended to prevent irregularities and illegal activities in the sector and requires all stakeholders to comply with the legal framework. The details of the sanctions and the fine amounts reflect the seriousness of the issue and the importance that the legislator places on this matter.

VII. Conclusion and Critical Perspective

This extensive regulatory overhaul within the legal framework for short-term residential rentals for tourism purposes in Turkey has been crafted with the needs of travelers and property owners in mind. The introduction of Law No. 7464 aspires to usher in a more regulated and dependable environment for the tourism sector. By instituting a permit requirement for property owners, enforcing compliance with specific standards, and imposing sanctions for non-compliance, it heralds a significant transformation within the tourism industry.

While the pursuit of permits serves not only as a legal mandate but also as a vehicle for elevating the service quality and reliability, it introduces a layer of complexity into the operation of short-term rentals. A particular point of contention is the unanimous consent requirement from building proprietors for obtaining a permit. This stipulation poses a considerable challenge in multi-owned properties where securing unanimous agreement can be an arduous task, often hindered by diverse interests and the reluctance of some proprietors to engage in short-term rental activities.

The stringent requirement for unanimous approval effectively creates a high barrier to entry, which could drastically reduce the number of eligible properties for platforms like Airbnb, thus impacting their listings and the broader short-term rental market. The potential decrease in available rental properties may not only limit options for travelers but could also lead to a contraction in the short-term rental market, which has been a vibrant part of the tourism economy.

Furthermore, the law’s strict regulations, while intended to enhance the quality and safety of tourist accommodations, may inadvertently disadvantage small property owners who lack the resources or the ability to navigate the complex bureaucratic processes involved in obtaining the necessary permits. This could result in an uneven playing field, favoring larger operators or established hotels and leading to a less competitive market.

The rules and obligations imposed on e-commerce platforms are meant to shield against deceptive practices and to cultivate consumer confidence. However, the law’s rigid stance on compliance and the hefty administrative fines underscore the seriousness with which irregularities and illegal activities are being addressed. The imposition of such sanctions highlights the law’s commitment to order and quality but also raises concerns about the flexibility and adaptability of the sector to evolving market dynamics.

In conclusion, while the enforcement of this law and adherence to its provisions are crucial for avoiding penalties and enhancing the standing of Turkish tourism, they carry significant implications for the short-term rental industry. The regulation, by mandating strict compliance, aims to elevate service standards and customer satisfaction. Yet, the challenges associated with obtaining licenses and permits, especially the necessity for unanimous building proprietor approval, could substantially stifle the growth of a sector that has been burgeoning and dynamic.

As Turkey navigates the implementation of these new regulations, it remains imperative for the stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue and seek balanced solutions that preserve the vibrancy and inclusivity of the short-term rental market, while upholding the law’s intentions of safety, quality, and reliability. The future of tourism and the short-term rental sector in Turkey will be shaped by how these challenges are addressed and the industry’s ability to adapt to this new regulatory landscape.

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