Rent prices are soaring amid a sheltering crisis in the provinces hit by the 6 February earthquakes in southeast Turkey, Birgün newspaper reported.
While state institutions have arranged the transport for 106,428 people to leave the 10 earthquake-hit provinces in south Turkey, many are using their own means to find shelter in other parts of the country, which is expected to lead to a huge migration wave in coming weeks.
The current migration route shows that people are flowing to nearby cities, but many are also moving to metropolitan areas in the West which have already had soaring rent prices in recent years, despite huge empty building stock, particularly in İstanbul.
Rents increased by 168% across Turkey last year according to Bahçeşehir University Economic and Social Research Centre (BETAM).
Turkish authorities have been guiding people in specific quake-stricken provinces to pre-determined provinces, but people are preferring to move to places where they have relatives or where they believe it will be easier for them to survive.
The rapid increase in rents is highest in the southern province Adana, followed by Niğde, Kayseri, Konya and Aksaray, which are in the vicinity of the disaster region. Southern and western provinces of Antalya, Aydın, İzmir and Muğla, chosen by the country’s emergency response authority as areas where earthquake survivors will be directed first, have also been witnessing a huge increase in rental prices.
In the southern province of Mersin, very close to the earthquake area, bus companies say that people are coming in flocks and the numbers are likely to multiply in the near future. The municipality set a help desk at the main bus station, guiding earthquake survivors to facilities they can use to find shelter. Some five thousand people have already been staying in temporary shelters such as dormitories and gymnasiums of schools.
According to Mehmet Sinan Canpolat, the head of Mersin Chamber of Real Estate Agents, rents have increased in the province by 50% over the last week. Canpolat told Cumhuriyet newspaper that they will file an official complaint against agents and home owners who have been trying to profit from the disaster.
The Governor’s Office of Elazığ province in east Turkey have launched an investigation into rapidly increasing rents in the province, which quadrupled since the twin earthquakes.
In Ankara, the province’s Chamber of Real Estate Agents said that rents rose by 40% over the last week, despite agents efforts to keep them lower.
Cansel Turgut Yazıcı, the general director of Eva Real Estate, told Cumhuriyet that the government should immediately take action to freeze rents.
“Authorities should urgently ban keeping houses empty, should not extend the rental contracts of foreigners. Otherwise the sheltering crisis will deepen even more” he said.
According to lawyer Bahri Gödeoğlu, the Turkish law does not have enough sanctions to effectively respond to complaints on increasing rental prices.
The rent prices in some provinces like Antalya have significantly increased last year due to a large number of Ukrainian and Russian population fleeing to Turkey.
Many fear that the country’s southern provinces might also experience a new immigration flow in quake struck Syria, which will in turn make coping with the sheltering crisis almost impossible.