Is It Safe to Buy in Northern Cyprus?
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Is It Safe to Buy in Northern Cyprus?


Sample Title Deed
photo by: North Cyprus Properties Ltd.
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A brief history

Ever since warriors returned to Cyprus from the Siege of Troy in ancient times, many powers have tried to conquer and claim the island of Cyprus, including the Roman, the Byzantines and the Venetians. In 1960, the British relinquished control over Cyprus to a power-sharing government of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots. However, the Greek Cypriot elements began to squeeze out the minority Turkish Cypriot representatives and their influence, until events reached boiling point. In 1974, the Turkish authorities intervened the north of the island to protect the rights of the resident Turkish Cypriot residents in Cyprus. The resulting “Green Line” boundary between north and south has been in place ever since, dividing the island. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has been established in the north, but is not recognised by the UN Security Council, whilst the Republic of Cyprus in the south has recently become a member of the EU.

Why the problem?

During the events of 1974, Turkish Cypriots fled north leaving their homes and lands in the south, and Greek Cypriots did the opposite, moving north to south. It is the status of these abandoned lands on both sides of the border that is at the heart of the Cyprus property issue.

North Cyprus Title Deeds

The issue comes to rest on the status of the title deeds attached to land and property in Northern Cyprus. There are four kinds of title deeds, three of which are considered to be ‘safe’ as they exist within the legal framework of North Cyprus. In short, any land belonging to a Turkish Cypriot or a foreign wonder in pre-1974 North Cyprus is deemed safe, as no claim can be made against it regarding ownership, by a Greek Cypriot living in the south. Also, the TRNC gave land to Turkish Cypriots in compensation for lands lost in the south, which now have a TRNC deed. These deeds are also considered ‘safe’ for potential purchasers. Some land and property have not been claimed by Turkish Cypriots and do not have any deeds at all; these should probably be avoided by investors, as their future status is uncertain.

The way forward in North Cyprus

In 2004, Kofi Annan, then Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), met with the leaders of both sides and put forward a reunification plan. The plan limited the extent to which Greek Cypriots could reclaim lands, and suggested resolutions based on the 1974 values of such lands. This was put to the people of Cyprus in a referendum, which was accepted by Turkish Cypriots and rejected by Greek Cypriots.

The Oram Case

In 2002 a British couple, Linda and David Oram, built a house on land in Northern Cyprus with TRNC deeds, land subsequently disputed by Greek Cypriot Meletis Apostolides. Mr Apostolides and his family fled the north in 1974, and he obtained a south Cyprus court ruling that the Orams should demolish their house, return the land and pay him compensation. Such a ruling from a south Cyprus court has no status in the judicial system of North Cyprus. However, any ruling by a court in an EU country is valid in another EU country. So, Mr Apostolides is pursuing the Orams through the UK courts, the UK being a member of the EU, against their assets held in the UK. However, the UK courts can reject the south Cyprus court ruling on grounds of if it were against ‘public policy’ in the UK. Furthermore, the EC regulation rules that a judgment made in south Cyprus is only enforceable in the UK if it is equally enforceable in all of Cyprus, which it is not due to the different legal system in the north and south of Cyprus. The High Court in London is due to rule on the case in July 2006.

Turkish EU membership

Land disputes are clearly a major issue in any future bid by Turkey to join the EU, as is the whole Cyprus question. Any settlement of the Cyprus situation must include a solution to property dispute, which frees the current property owner from any future difficulties or disadvantages. It is widely believed that Turkey, together with EU funding, will offer global compensation.

The ‘Green Line’ border

Perhaps the most encouraging sign of future reunification, or at least acceptance, is the relaxing of border restrictions between north and south. Visitors and residents alike can now pass freely between north and south at six points across the border, formally closed except for day visits. Tourists can even fly into south Cyprus airports, cross the border and holiday in North Cyprus with ease.

So, is it safe to buy property in North Cyprus?

The short answer is yes, if the title deeds are sound. Property and land with pre-1974 Turkish Cypriot and foreign owner deeds are not in dispute, and therefore are probably the safest option for purchasers. Needless to say, land and property with these deeds command a premium. TRNC deeds given in compensation for lands lost in the south are considered the next best option.

Your best safeguard in buying property in Northern Cyprus is to employ an independent solicitor who will examine the title deeds with scrupulous care and inform you of their true status. As with all major investments, seek professional advice at every stage, and never feel rushed or pressured into buying property in North Cyprus. A good estate agent or developer will give you time and space to make up your own minds.

Independent North Cyprus Property Reviews

Lost in the maze of new developments on offer in North Cyprus? The North Cyprus property reviews offer a quick and easy way to discover the wide range of offplan and completed new properties on offer in North Cyprus.

Each Northern Cyprus property development is categorised by location, price and accommodation on offer, and a simple rollover of the mouse even reveal a quick sneak-peek picture! Click on the link, and our concise article will sum up the development for you, from facilities to fittings, swimming pools to sun terraces.

Help and Advice for British purchasers of North Cyprus properties

The British Residents Society of North Cyprus offer a handbook on living in North Cyprus and are available every Saturday in Kyrenia for advice. See their web site at http://www.brstrnc.com for more details.

Discuss property issues on North Cyprus Property Board

You are invited to participate in our North Cyprus Forums and tell us your opinions on the property issues. Feel free to ask questions and send replies.