Overview of the legal aspects of buying property in North Cyprus
When purchasing northern cyprus properties we recommend the input of a properly qualified and reputable local lawyer. The British High Commission in Nicosia has a list of preferred lawyers. The Customer Service Team at Fraser Meridies also holds a list of recommended lawyers that we have been working with for over ten years.
Title deeds for North Cyprus Property
Title deeds in north cyprus are called koçans (pronounced ‘kojan’), if you are purchasing a property in north cyprus every piece of land or building must have an accompanying deed. The property alternatives with different deed types are as follows:
a) Foreign Pre-1974 title deeds. These deeds are recognised internationally. Purchase requires permission from the Council of Ministers if you are a foreign national.
b) Turkish title deeds pre-74. These deeds are recognised internationally. Purchase of such a property requires the approval of the Council of Ministers if you are a foreign national.
ci) Exchange Title deeds (Esdeger) relating to Greek Cypriot properties or land owned pre-1974. Such property was awarded on a points system to Turkish Cypriot refugees from the south in compensation for the approximate equivalent property they had left behind after partition of the island in 1974. The deeds of the abandoned southern properties were retained by the government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) for use in future settlement negotiations with the south.
c ii) TMD Title deeds. Relate to points-based Greek Cypriot properties (mainly land) owned pre-1974 and awarded to Turkish Cypriots and mainland Turkish immigrants by the TRNC government.
c iii) Exchange Title deeds with no owner pre-1974. Such agricultural land has been registered since 1974 as exchange title deed status.
Based on the 1983 TRNC Constitution, all such deeds were amended and named as TRNC Title Deeds, and this applies to all properties in North Cyprus with deeds of this type. Such deeds are freely transferable to non-TRNC citizens, but Council of Ministers approval is required.
It should be noted that according to Property Purchase (Foreigners) Law and the related regulations purchase by non-TRNC citizens is limited. To clarify a foreign married couple or foreign individual may purchase; one apartment or one donum of land (without a building) or one villa (completed) on up to five donums land. You are able to purchase more than one property if you form a company or legal ‘trust’ with a local person.
Your solicitor will then apply for a permit to purchase from the Ministry of the Interior and can provide the application number for your files. This permission may take between one to two years to be approved by the Council of Ministers. Due to the lengthy process of purchase permission for foreigners it is normal proceedure for possession of the property to take place immediately as payment is made and your contract to be registered at the district lands office to confirm your ownership until full transfer takes place.
Once this permit has been issued, the purchaser and the vendor are entitled to transfer ownership.
Purchasing north cyprus property – Legal Tips
Prior to purchase instruct a lawyer to carry out the necessary searches on the title deed relevant to your proposed purchase. The searches should include: access, building permissions, potential mortgage charges, confirmation of ownership, build percentage and any legal aspect that shoud prevent purchase.