An eviction notice is a written document in which the tenant undertakes to vacate the rented property on a certain date. According to the Turkish Code of Obligations, the eviction notice must be issued “after the delivery of the rented property”. Otherwise, the eviction notice cannot be considered valid. Whether the eviction notice was issued before or after the delivery of the rented property can be understood from the “commitment or arrangement date” specified in the eviction notice.
So, if the landlord or real estate agent has obtained an eviction notice from the tenant with the “Eviction Date” and “Arrangement Date” left blank or filled in with a future date at the time of signing the lease agreement, how can the tenant protect themselves?
I. Blank / Empty Eviction Notice
In our article, the blank eviction notice refers to an eviction notice in which the eviction date and arrangement date are left blank.
This article is only about the validity of an blank eviction notice. For our other articles on eviction notices, please see:
- What is an Eviction Notice in Turkey?
- Vacate Due to an Eviction Notice in Turkey
- Is a Blank Eviction Notice Valid in Turkey?
- Discussion on Objection to Eviction Notice as Family Residence in Turkey
- Our Articles on Rental Law in Turkey
II. Filling in the Blank Eviction Notice by the Landlord
1. Filling in the Date of the Notice Afterwards
The landlord may have obtained an eviction notice with blank dates along with the lease agreement from the tenant. The landlord’s intention here is to be able to easily evict the tenant whenever they wish.
According to the practices of the courts and the Supreme Court (High Court), if there is an objection that the date of the notice was filled in afterwards, the tenant must prove this objection with written evidence. Otherwise, the landlord’s execution or eviction proceedings based on the eviction notice will result in a lawsuit.
In the decision of the Supreme Court General Assembly numbered 2017/975 Case and 2021/1108 Decision dated September 28, 2021, it was ruled that:
“… as mentioned above, according to Article 6 of the Turkish Civil Code and Article 190 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the burden of proof belongs to the party who claims the legal consequence arising from the alleged situation in favor of themselves. The defendant tenant who claims that the eviction notice was signed before the lease agreement is obliged to prove this claim. In this case, it is not correct for the court to reverse the burden of proof and dismiss the lawsuit.“
How can it be proven that the eviction notice was signed on the same date as the lease agreement or before the delivery of the leased property?
Even if the landlord has filled in the notice afterwards, there is written evidence in their possession. In court, only written evidence can be refuted with written evidence. Therefore, the tenant can only prove that the date of the eviction notice was filled in afterwards with written evidence.
The tenant’s objections such as “age of signature”, “age of ink”, “telephone records”, “mobile phone location records”, “being in a different place on the date of the notice or not meeting with the landlord again” will not be considered. Th fact that the eviction notice was signed before or on the same date as the lease agreement cannot be proven with a “witness”.
The tenant can prove that the eviction notice was prepared before the delivery of the leased property by sending a notice to the landlord. If the landlord wants the tenant to sign the eviction notice as a precondition to the lease agreement, the tenant can send a notice to the landlord via notary stating that the eviction notice was signed with a blank date, does not reflect their will, and was signed before the delivery of the leased property, no later than the start date of the lease.
Even if the landlord initiates proceedings with the eviction notice, the tenant will have proven with written evidence that the date of the notice in the notice sent via notary is before the lease agreement was signed or before the start date of the lease.
Can a blank eviction notice, signed due to deception, mistake, or intimidation, be canceled?
Many law firms’ websites suggest that an eviction notice signed due to fraud, mistake, or intimidation can be canceled within one year. Some lawyers even argue that claims of mental incapacity or undue influence (gabin) can be proven with witnesses or any kind of evidence. However, these claims are only opinions.
In our experience, we have not witnessed the cancellation of an eviction notice due to claims of mental incapacity. There is no precedent in the Supreme Court regarding claims of mental incapacity.
While claims of mental incapacity can be proven with any kind of evidence, an eviction notice is not a “contract” but a one-sided declaration of will that is specifically regulated by law. Claims of mental incapacity are only applicable to contracts.
The tenant who signs a blank eviction notice must bear the legal consequences. Claims of mental incapacity against an eviction notice must be proven in writing. Since the legislator does not require an eviction notice to be notarized, changing the legal consequences attached to a blank eviction notice would not be appropriate.
2. Eviction Notice: Filling in the Vacate Date Later
There will be at least two dates on an eviction notice. One is the date of issuance and the other is the vacate date, which is the date the tenant has legally committed to vacate the rental property. The tenant must vacate the leased property or business by the vacate date at the latest. Otherwise, the landlord may initiate legal action and enforce eviction.
If the vacate date is filled in later on the eviction notice, this objection in the agreement is considered as “signing in blank”.
Under Turkish law, the person who signs in blank must assume the obligation. This means that the person who signs a blank document agrees to it being filled in later. The opposite can only be proven if it is demonstrated in writing that the blank document was not filled out in accordance with the agreement between the parties.
According to the jurisprudence of the Turkish Supreme Court, “if an eviction notice with blank dates is signed by the tenant during the conclusion of the lease agreement, it must be proven that the dates were left blank prior to the delivery of the leased property and were later completed in violation of the agreement. Thus, completing the issuance and vacate dates afterwards does not render the document invalid, and the tenant must prove that the dates were completed in violation of the agreement.” (Turkish Supreme Court General Assembly 2017/975 Case and 2021/1108 Decision dated 28/09/2021)
If a tenant provides a blank eviction notice along with the lease agreement and fails to send a formal notice from a notary public by the lease start date, it will be difficult to prove that the eviction notice is invalid. In order to do so, the tenant must either reach an agreement with the landlord or have a spouse who is not a party to the lease agreement become a party to the lease agreement.
3. The signature on the eviction notice and the dates filled in with different pens and font types
When the eviction notice is left blank, often the dates are filled in later with different handwriting styles and pens than the tenant’s signature. This makes it evident that the eviction notice was filled in later.
However, according to the application of the Court of Cassation and courts, the blank eviction notice is legally valid; therefore, the difference in handwriting styles and different persons filling in the signature and text on the blank eviction notice is not important.
In the decision of the 6th Civil Chamber of the Court of Cassation, dated 14.09.2011 and numbered E. 2011/4370 K. 2011/8923, it was stated that “… Furthermore, according to the report of the forensic institution, it was determined that the signature under the undertaking belonged to the defendant tenant. The fact that the eviction and preparation dates in the enforcement basis undertaking were written with a different pen does not affect the validity of the document. In this case, it must be accepted that the lessor was authorized to fill in the blank parts later…“
III. Is filling out an blank eviction notice after it has been signed a crime in Turkey?
According to Turkish Civil Code, it is against the law to obtain an eviction notice before the property is delivered, even if it is left blank at the beginning of the lease by the landlord or real estate agents. However, this act alone does not constitute a crime. Therefore, filling out an blank eviction notice afterwards is not a crime if the tenant does not have written proof.
If there is another written agreement between the landlord and the tenant, and the eviction notice is filled out contrary to this agreement, the crime of “Misuse of Signature Disclosure” regulated in Article 209 of the Turkish Penal Code may arise. (*Forgery in a private document; however, if the eviction notice has been tampered with, this crime may be considered. Filling in only the blank dates on the eviction notice does not constitute forgery in a private document.)
As a rule, whether a crime has been committed can be proven with any evidence obtained legally. HOWEVER, the crime of misuse of signature disclosure can only be proven with “written evidence”. (Supreme Court of Appeals Joint Decisions 1988/1-1989/2) In an investigation file opened due to such a crime, if the complainant does not deny the signature and there has been no tampering with the document, there is no need for signature examination, witness testimony, or additional research. The prosecutor or law enforcement officer should ask the complaining tenant if they have any written documents and request that they submit them to the file. If the tenant does not have any written evidence, the complaint will result in a decision of “no need for prosecution”.
The blank eviction notice can be filled out or the eviction date can be added later and it is legally valid. However, if the tenant proves in writing that the blank eviction notice was prepared before the delivery of the rented property, the eviction notice will be invalid.
Filling out a blank eviction notice alone does not constitute a crime. If the complainant proves with “written” evidence that the blank eviction notice was filled out contrary to the agreement between the landlord and the tenant, the crime of “misuse of signature in the public document” will be on the agenda.
Memduh Remzi BAL
Lawyer / Attorney in Turkey
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