Tuesday 22 August 2023 г.
A title deed (also known as “Title Deed” in English and “Taşınmaz Mal Koçanı” in Turkish) is a document confirming ownership rights to real estate in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
There are five types of titles in the TRNC:
Legal Status of Land in Northern Cyprus:
The legal status of all lands within the territory of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is defined in Article 159 of the TRNC Constitution (Anayasa). According to this article, immovable property belonging to the Government of Cyprus before August 16, 1960—specifically, all immovable property within the territory of the Turkish Federative State of Cyprus established on February 13, 1975, including military installations and objects of military significance specified in the 1960 Agreement—belongs to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
In Paragraph 117 of the case Demopoulos and Others v. Turkey, heard by the Hague Court of Human Rights on March 1, 2010, it is stated that “…there is no precedent in the Court’s case-law in support of the proposition that the Contracting State should adopt a general policy of restitution of property to its former owners regardless of the current use or occupation of the property concerned.”
Furthermore, the Hague Court’s decisions mention restitution and compensation to Greek Cypriots. These payments are managed by the Property Compensation Commission of the TRNC, established in accordance with the Hague Court’s decision, Xenides-Arestis v. Turkey, on September 2, 2004.
The Property Compensation Commission (Taşınmaz Mal Komisyonu) of the TRNC reviews claims related to restitution, compensation, and exchange in line with the provisions of Law No. 67/2005. The Commission’s goal is to satisfy the legitimate property claims of owners without undermining the rights of the Turkish Cypriot community.
As of August 11, 2023, the Commission has received 7,324 applications, out of which 1,423 have been concluded through settlements, and 34 are in the stage of official hearings. The Commission has awarded compensation totaling £396,363,257 to applicants.
On February 10, 2023, the TRNC government introduced amendments to the regulation of the Land Registry Taxes and Fees Law 115-2023. According to Paragraph 3(c), foreigners are required to pay 3% of the property’s value to the Property Compensation Commission fund when acquiring property. These funds are used to compensate Greek Cypriots. Thus, legally, every foreigner acquiring real estate in Northern Cyprus contributes compensation to South Cyprus for their property.
Will the new property owners lose their properties if the TRNC gains international recognition of independence?
What conclusion can be drawn from the above? There is no reason to worry about the safety of one’s property in Northern Cyprus. The TRNC government is taking necessary steps to address property compensation issues with former owners. In the event of international recognition of the TRNC, former property owners will not and cannot deprive current owners of their houses, apartments, land plots, and other real estate. These matters can only be resolved through the Property Compensation Commission of the TRNC. Only if the property belongs to the TRNC government can it, on behalf of the TRNC, return it to its former Greek Cypriot owner.
If a land plot was granted by the TRNC government, with titles issued, such as the Exchange Title (Eşdeğer), Designated Title (Tahsis), or Mujahid Title (Mücahit), the responsibility for resolving restitution, compensation, or exchange lies with the Property Compensation Commission of the TRNC, not the current property owners. Former property owners have the right to apply to the Commission and receive compensation.
Which title is the most reliable?
On the internet, much is written about the reliability of various titles, often comparing them. By examining the legal aspect, one conclusion can be reached: all titles confirming ownership rights in the TRNC have the same degree of protection and reliability.
It doesn’t matter on what basis a particular land allocation, such as Tahsis, Mücahit, or Eşdeğer, was granted—all fall under the equal operation of Law 67/2005 regarding compensation, exchange, and restitution of immovable property. Payments for these properties are made within the framework of the work of the Property Compensation Commission of the TRNC.
The essence of the title names reflects the basis upon which they were obtained. The prevalent opinion on internet resources that the Exchange Title is superior to the Designated or Mujahid Title has no foundation. In the face of international law, all these titles have equal significance and protect the rights of their owners equally.
In the real estate market, there is active promotion of the Exchange Title as the most reliable, as it is used for payments to Greek Cypriots. This leads to an increase in the value of land plots with this title compared to the Tahsis and Mujahid Titles. However, the practical legal practice, decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (HUDOC), and the work of the Property Compensation Commission of the TRNC indicate that there is no difference between these types of titles. All titles are guaranteed by the TRNC government and can be acquired by foreigners.
Author: Julia Ozerce, Lawyer, CEO of Veles Enterprises Ltd.
4 YİM Numara:245/2012 D. No:27/2018, http://mahkemeler.net/
5 Anayasa, http://mahkemeler.net/
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