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North Cyprus Title Deeds

North Cyprus Title Deeds

Buying a property in North Cyprus can be completely safe, despite the division of the island into the TRNC (Turkish Republic of North Cyprus ) and the Greek Republic of Cyprus. After the partition of the island in 1974, both communities left land and property in the other part of the island. On balance, Greek Cypriots who fled to the south left more land in the north than Turkish Cypriots who fled to the north from the south. As much of the available land in North Cyprus was abandoned by fleeing Greeks in 1974, the Greek Republic of Cyprus has consistently promoted the hope that all Greek refugees will one day return to their lost family land in North Cyprus. However, this hope was repudiated by the Annan Plan and very few Greeks wish to return to North Cyprus

With regard to the purchase of land or buildings, one needs to consider the different types of property / land, and the title deeds which one is likely to be offered.

Foreigners are limited to one donum per person, although husband and wife can make separate purchases of up to one donum each.  Sons and daughters can also hold 1 donum each.

a) Absolute freehold title - British, German or other foreign ownership pre-1974, with title deed (kocan), clearly stating that this is the case. These are internationally recognised deeds.

b) Absolute Turkish freehold title - Turkish Cypriot owned pre-1974. These deeds are also 100% safe.

c) TRNC title deed. This is property or land that was in Greek Cypriot ownership pre-1974. When the Turkish Cypriot refugees came to the safety of the north after July 1974, they left all their possessions behind in the south. Accordingly, the Government then allocated land to these refugees.

TRNC title deeds can either be Exchange (Esdeger) or points based (TMD)

Exchange land is land allocated to a Turkish Cypriot who lost land in South Cyprus. He has received from the TRNC government land which is deemed to be equivalent in the North. Under the Annan Plan this land is immune from restitution to a dispossessed Greek owner, but compensation may be payable.

Points based land or TMD is where a Turkish Cypriot refugee could take a relinquished Greek Cypriot house or land based on a number of criteria, usually military service. Under the Annan Plan, this type of land may be eligible for return to dispossessed Greeks, provided it has not been 'improved'. This means that if a property has been built on TMD land after 1974, then it is immune from any claim for restitution. However, there may be a claim for compensation.

Although it is difficult to calculate potential compensation claims in respect of Exchange or TMD land, it has been estimated that a sum of £5,000 to £8,0000 would cover and settlement.

The TRNC government has started a policy of blurring the distinction between Exchange and TMD land. It used to be possible to identify the status of land by examining the title deeds or kocan. However, when land now changes hands, this distinction is not identified. The government has guaranteed all TRNC issued title deeds, and the importance of the distinction between exchange and TMD land will diminish over time.

Although the Annan Plan has not been implemented, and the island remains divided, the TRNC has established a Property Commission in order to settle Greek claims and to provide an internal remedy and thus prevent dispossessed Greeks from making applications to the ECHR ( European Court of Human Rights).

d) There is also the method of leasing land or property from the Government. These are usually derelict houses, which the Government will lease out for periods up to 49 years to foreigners who renovate the property at their own expense, and who pay a nominal ground rent for the lease period. An excellent example of the manner in which this scheme has been operated can be seen in Karaman (Karmi) Village, which is a credit to the Minister of Tourism and his staff. Other land, such as plots adjacent to beaches fall into this category.

All intending purchasers should be aware that prior to a property being registered in your name, an application must be made to the Council of Ministers for approval. The procedure to obtain approval will take 12 to 18 months. In the meantime, most purchasers will move into the property and make full payment to the developer / builder.

There is also a Shared Title Deed, and purchasers should be aware of the distinctive aspects.

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