Ashgabat: Select Expats and Diplomats Allowed to Rent Housing


Ashgabat city administration

According to sources of Alternative Turkmenistan News (ATN), authorities in the capital of Turkmenistan have tacitly permitted foreign diplomats and the top management of large enterprises to rent housing. They were forced to compromise as a result of the impossible situation persisting in the last few months.

At the meeting of the Cabinet on February 5, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov demanded to streamline the registration system for property rentals and secure it within the legal and regulatory framework. Tenants should be able to get a temporary residence permit. «Landlords and tenants must comply with provisions of the applicable laws, and cooperate with the State Revenue Service in accordance with the regulations,» the government news agency TDH reported.

The order of Berdimuhamedov was given immediate effect. The police, together with the local authorities and the Migration Service, conducted raids to find and evict those living in rental housing. Within a few weeks, dozens of foreign diplomats, directors and managers of major international companies and their families were evicted from their Ashgabat apartments, along with numerous citizens of Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs was immediately swamped with complaints and notes from various organizations. As an example, ATN had earlier published a copy of the note submitted by the Embassy of Malaysia to the Turkmen diplomatic authority, with a request to assist Malaysians expats in registering with the State Migration Service.

According to an ATN source in the Foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan, they received “dozens” of similar notes. The Ministry promised to resolve the issue by early March, but the new system of rentals registration has yet to be approved.

According to an ATN source, the result was a compromise decision to allow local administrations to register rental contracts, and the tax service to grant patents only to those property owners in the capital, who intended to rent their apartments out to a CEO of a foreign company or a foreign diplomat.

This tacit decision was adopted by the city authorities in order to somehow address the current situation, which many consider absurd. As for the other, lower-ranking expats, they are still facing the same problem: they and their families are unable to rent accommodations in the capital.  Unofficially, Migration Service officials advise them to settle in camps or in hotels.

«Only in your country, if you want to rent an apartment, you have to harass the ambassador and haul his letters and notes to the Foreign Ministry, city administration and the migration service,» said an employee of a foreign company, who didn’t wish to be named.

«The new regulation was prepared and submitted to the President’s Office for approval, but for some reason, officials are in no hurry to take the last step, that is, to place it on the President’s desk,» said a source in the Foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan.