Thursday, 1 July 2010

Is it safe to buy property in North Cyprus?

Northern Cyprus has a complex recent history. The Turkish occupation in 1974 caused many Greek Cypriots to flee, in many cases abandoning their homes and posessions. The country is much more settled now, and talks between northern and southern leaders hope to establish strong ties between the two sides. However, there are ongoing problems with property ownership as Greek Cypriots displaced in the 1970s seek to reclaim their land. This was highlighted by the unfortunate case of the Orams.

Today's guest blogger, Cameron Deggin of Place Overseas, talks about what to consider if you're hoping to buy property in Northern Cyprus:

"Prior to 1974, Turks and Greeks lived in a mixed state on the island.  There were Greek districts and Turkish districts, andsome were mixed.  In 1974, Turkey used its rights under the 1960 constitution of the Republic of Cyprus to intervene on the grounds that the Turkish minority rights (30/70 population Turks to Greeks) were violated.  

In the years following the intervention, a population exchange programme was implemented with the supervision of United Nations. Greek Cypriots were moved to the south and Turkish Cypriots were moved to the north. Since 1974 the island has been divided under a Greek and a Turkish administration; the former referred to as Republic of Cyprus and the latter is Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).  The TRNC is not internationally recognised. 
In the years following 1974, the Turkish administration distributed land and property to Turkish Cypriot refugees from the south under the exchange programme, which sought to value land and property abandoned in the south and compensate the refugees with land and property abandoned by the Greeks who had moved to the south.  The Turkish administration issued TRNC title deeds to their refugees.  

Therefore, a TRNC title deed for Northern Cyprus property issued under the exchange programme to a Turkish Cypriot, who prior to 1974 lived in the south of the island, mainly belonged to Greek Cypriots, who now live in the south.  Turkish administration holds the view that the island is now separated and north is a different country and as such there will be no going back to south or vice versa.  Therefore whatever is in the north is a TRNC title and can rightfully be bought and sold as such. The issue arises due to the fact that Greek Cypriot administration does not recognise title deeds issued by TRNC, neither does the European Union (who does not recognise TRNC). The Greek administration holds the view that the current state of the island is transient and Greeks still have rightful ownership of land in the north.  

Therefore, the internationally recognised title deeds are the deeds issued by Republic of Cyprus or those that were in place prior to 1974.  This point was brought to the UK and EU courts in a decisive case held at the European Court of Justice several months ago. The Court supported the viewpoint of the Greek Cyprus courts, which is the only recognised legislation on the island.

So in theory, if a prior Greek owner challenges an exchange land, as far as EU courts are concerned, TRNC title is not recognised and a subsequent owner may be asked to give the land back to the Greek owner and pay compensation. However, the Greeks can no longer go to the Court unless they first seek resolve in the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) located in the TRNC.  

To make matters even more complicated, the European Court of Justice, in an attempt to block further controversial trials instigated by Greeks, ruled that Greeks will first need to ask Turkish Cypriot IPC to solve the matter.  Well, the IPC is not likely to hold in favour of Greeks but is likely to delay matters further and further. In short, it's a rather tangled web. 

So, as a foreign buyer, what should you do?
  • Take the risk and buy exchange property,  which is cheaper than Pre 74 Turkish title property;
  • Take no risks and purchase pre 74 Turkish Title property in North Cyprus; property and land that always were in the hands of Turkish Cypriots prior to 1974, basically Turkish titles issued prior to 1974;
  • Move your focus some 40 miles to the north of Cyprus and look at Turkish coastline, which incidentally is more beautiful and lot more colourful. Property in Turkey is still a great bet for investment, permanent and holiday homes.
It's a complex matter, so if you have any questions at all about buying property in Northern Cyprus, please contact Cameron Deggin. 


  1. Turks get out of Cyprus.

  2. "Property in Turkey is still a great bet for investment, permanent and holiday homes." Agreed in full here.

    Angelo H

  3. For me it is safe to buy property in North Cyprus. Love to live in there.

    Deirdre G

  4. Anyone buying here will most certainly be happy with their choice. Just one night of relaxation enjoying the warm Mediterranean breezes will be enough to convince anyone that buying Cyprus property in Paphos is a decision they won't regret. You will love the lifestyle here, and whether you're on vacation or relocating to Paphos, buying property there may be the best investment you ever make!
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  5. Wonderful. place. It's a very nice experience to have luxury holidays in Cyprus and enjoy the luxuries that the place offers.

  6. Turkish Riviera Homes is London UK & Antalya Turkey based company with partner offices in most property regions of Turkey and Northern Cyprus including Antalya ,Kemer , Belek , Side , Alanya..

  7. Looks interesting, ill be sure to check it out. Cheap property in Turkey

  8. So should someone buy property in the north of Cyprus? Lets see what does the Foreign and Common wealth Office say?

    "The ownership of many properties is disputed in the north of Cyprus, with thousands of claims to ownership from people displaced during the events of 1974. Purchase of these properties could have serious financial and legal implications. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in a number of cases that owners of property in northern Cyprus before 1974 continue to be regarded as the legal owners of that property. Purchasers could face legal proceedings ...."

    "On 20 October 2006, an amendment to the Republic of Cyprus criminal code relating to property came into effect. Under the amendment, buying, selling, renting, promoting or mortgaging a property without the permission of the owner (the person whose ownership is registered with the Republic of Cyprus Land Registry, including Greek Cypriots displaced from northern Cyprus in 1974) is a criminal offence. The maximum prison sentence is 7 years. The amendment to the law also states that any attempt to undertake such a transaction is a criminal offence and could result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years."

    So what is the answer? Well if you on commission to sell you maybe able to convince some one who is naive or simply a carpetbagger. Apart from it being immoral to buy land in the occupied area of Cyprus which could very well belong to a family that has been 'displaced' by violence and force - you may also lose your money. You will be also committing a criminal offence and could go to jail - but then again who is counting in a occupied land where the rule of law does not apply ....