There is much talk and doubt amongst many purchasers regarding land titles in Northern Cyprus. The information below clarifies the land title situation and will reassure you through a better understanding of the system. The most crucial factor in buying property in Northern Cyprus, whether land or buildings, is to use a qualified lawyer for the preparation of all contracts and government applications.
Restrictions on Foreigners
Foreigners are limited to owning one dönüm (approx 1/3 acre) per person (husband and wife count as one person). The Council of Ministers carry out a number of checks following an application to purchase and these can take approx 12-18 months to complete.
The Land Registry maintains records of all land transfers in the same way as in the UK. The TRNC government issues the titles in the form of either freehold or leasehold Title Deeds (“Kocan” in Turkish)
Types of Title
Foreign and Turkish pre 1974 titles
- TURKISH FREEHOLD TITLE pre 1974
Land owned by a Turkish Cypriot prior to 1974 with undisputed title.
- FOREIGN FREEHOLD TITLE
Land owned by non-citizens (eg. British) and purchased prior to 1974.
Exchange (Esedger) titles
This is land owned by a Greek Cypriot prior to 1974 and abandoned when the owner relocated. It is normally now owned by a Turkish Cypriot who fled from the south, and who has lodged the title deed to his former land with the Land Registry in exchange thereby waiving his/her ownership rights to his land in the south. The land in the south is generally now far greater in value due to the rise in prices.
TMD or Tahsis
Absolute Possession Document (Kesin Tasarruf Belgesi)
This is land owned by a Greek Cypriot prior to 1974 and abandoned by its owner. The land was re-possessed by the TRNC government and has been granted to Turks or Turkish Cypriots normally in recognition for services and on a points basis.
The TRNC Government owns the freehold for this land. Long-term leases can be granted for 49 years with an option for a second 49-year term. This type of title deed is used mainly for tourism investments. Leases can be transferred directly or via a solicitor upon application to the Ministry of Interior. For example, all the houses in the picturesque village of Karmi are leased to foreigners.
Without TRNC Deeds
Land or buildings belonging to a Greek Cypriot prior to 1974, for which no title deeds have been issued are sometimes offered for relatively nominal “goodwill” sums.
All North Cyprus properties are sold freehold with clear title, depending on the original title of the development. Each development, when complete, is divided into individual title deeds for each plot and is then transferred to the buyer.
Procedures are as follows:
- Buyers are strongly recommended to take professional and independent legal advice, and the validity of a title deed should be checked by a solicitor who will visit the Land Registry personally.
- Contracts of sale are drawn up and executed, at which time a deposit of 10 – 20% is payable depending on the development, and a completion date is set. In many cases, the purchaser can return home leaving a power of attorney with their solicitor, who can then complete the purchase.
- An application to purchase must be made to the Council of Ministers, which can take 12-18 months. In the event that the house is completed at an earlier date, upon payment of the full sale price, the possession of the property can be given to the Purchaser even if the permission not granted.
- The Land Registry will value the property for Purchase Tax, which is not normally included in the purchase price and which is payable upon transfer of the title.
- Subsequent payments will depend on the terms of the contract. For a new build, this will normally be by stage payments based on the building work.
- VAT is payable on the transfer of the title of the property if the vendor is a company.
Upon completion of the entire development (or sometimes at the commencement of the project), the title is split into individual titles, which are then transferred to the purchaser. The Land Registry will then issue an updated title deed.