Monday, October 6, 2008

[edit] Legal Framework and the Recent Changes

The principles governing purchase of property by foreign (i.e. non-Turkish) nationals in Turkey is governed by the 1934 Property Act (Law Nr. 2644 dated 22 November 1934). The legal framework set up in 1934 was modified for a first time by a by-law (Law Nr. 4916) dated 3 July 2003. This law was predicated on a reciprocity clause; that is to say, citizens of countries whose governments allow Turkish nationals to purchase real estate in their country, were to be allowed to purchase real estate in Turkey.
However, following steps taken by Turkey's main opposition party CHP, the modifications brought by the 2003 by-law were declared as void by the Turkish Constitutional Court on 26 April 2005, in a decision to enter into effect as of 27 July 2005 and the purchase of real estate by foreign nationals was suspended until a modified law dated 7 January 2006 was brought into effect. This law, Law Nr. 5444, now enacted, instead of being a by-law modifying various paragraphs of the 1934 Property Act, is a fully stated legal text (still on the basis of a modification of the 1934 Act). (the full text in Turkish). This current law is retrospective in its application to 26 July 2005 and is largely the same as the law of 3 July 2003, with the following notable amendments, especially with regards to size limitations:
A foreign national cannot purchase more than 25,000m² (6 acres) of land (constructed or not) in Turkey without special consent from the Turkish Council of Ministers. The council of Ministers is authorised to increase this limit up to 300,000m2 per person.
Foreign national ownership of real estate cannot exceed 5/1000 of land in any designated province.
The property also has to be within a municipality. Foreigners can not buy in villages.
As for the handling of the transactions suspended since July 2005, the new law is also applicable for applications of Title Deeds in the period between the former law becoming void and the current law coming into effect.
For the moment, all overseas nationals are subject to a clearance by the Turkish military authorities before being allowed to proceed with any purchase. This is to establish that the land/property is not in a militarily sensitive area, and that the individual is considered as suitable to own real estate in Turkey. Designation of land suitable for overseas purchasers is expected to be determined at a later stage by Land Registry Offices, based on information supplied by the military.
The Council of Ministers is also expected to determine, in the three months following the promulgation of the law, those areas where reserves on purchase due to considerations stemming from irrigation, energy, agriculture, mining, history, religion and culture issues and for preservation of natural flora and fauna are put in effect. Property acquired through inheritance is not subject to the limitations and reserves stated above.
From January 2008, foreign investors will be able to apply for a mortgage within Turkey. The revision in existing laws, aims to encourage foreign investment, replacing the previous barrier whereby investors had to finance their Turkish real estate through cash purchases or mortgages arranged within their native country.

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