2 February 2024

In a street in the Fatih district, in Istanbul (Turkey), on May 12, 2023.

Like every morning, on the European side of Istanbul, the huge courthouse of Çaglayan, in Istanbul, is teeming as soon as it opens. Lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants, handcuffed, converge on one of the countless courtrooms. On the second floor of this labyrinth, Fatih Kaya (a pseudonym), 33, scans the long list of the morning’s trials, posted at door number 24 of the first instance court. Dressed in a blue polo shirt, jeans and sneakers, he came alone, a file in his hand.

A Turkish Airlines airline pilot, he moved into an apartment in the Maslak district, a few kilometers away, five years ago. “At the time, I paid 5,600 Turkish liras (equivalent to 1,000 euros)today my landlord is demanding 30,000 pounds (i.e. an increase of more than five times) ! », he is indignant. Sure of his rights, he did not feel the need to call on a lawyer. “I’m just asking for law enforcement”he points out, before being summoned for a hearing which will last only a few minutes.

Among the twenty or so people waiting in the corridors, the lawyer Sükrü Kaya, a septuagenarian draped in his black robe, shows his annoyance: “All this is the result of a bad housing policy on the part of the government. This gives rise to real chaos in Istanbul! » With inflation, the amount of rent increases at breakneck speed. Conflicts between tenants and landlords have multiplied in recent months to the point that, unusually, new courtrooms have had to be opened to deal with the piling up of cases. Despite this, waiting times keep getting longer.

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Over the past two years, the sharp increase in rents across the country, especially in the big cities, has taken a worrying turn. According to the site specializing in real estate Endeksa, prices have increased by nearly 385% at the national level since June 2021, by 413% for Istanbul, by 328% for the Mediterranean city of Antalya or by 455% for the Anatolian city of Nevsehir, however less attractive. The annual adjustment of the amount of rent is contractually indexed to the consumer price index for the first five years.

Violent settling of accounts

Caught between the demands of landlords and land pressure, tenants often find themselves forced to accept conditions that weaken their financial situation. This in a context where wage increases are struggling to follow the official inflation curve (40% annually). Other tenants are simply asked to leave their homes by landlords anxious to compensate, through their property income, for the loss of purchasing power generated by soaring prices. If the law generally protects tenants, the principle of personal necessity authorizes landlords to break the contract before expiry. It is used at will. Tenants are often reluctant to take legal action for fear that the situation will escalate. Cases of violent score settling between landlords and tenants have multiplied in recent months.

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