Frequently Asked Questions
With the experience which we have built up over the years and the fact that we have become very well acquainted with all of our clients to date, we are able to predict the kind of questions which will often pop up in our clients minds. These questions may range from laws regarding criminal issues, to current laws surrounding matters such as property purchase procedures, or simply a general interest in North Cyprus Laws, especially if the client has a vested interest on the island such as an early retirement and would like to get to know the island a little better.
Therefore for all the reasons mentioned above we have compiled the following frequently asked questions and answers section which we aim to update regularly and hope will give you a simple and straightforward answer to your questions. We would welcome any feedback from you with other areas which you may like us to cover in this section.
There are 4 steps to be followed:
Step 1 – Ask the vendor to see the original title deed (kocan) of the property/land, and take this to your lawyer.
Step 2 – Your lawyer will then obtain a site plan for the property/land in which an application will be made on your behalf for a search to be completed on the property/land.
In some cases these might already be available from the vendor. If so then all you need to do is show these to your lawyer.
The site plan is a map showing the exact location of the property/land you intend to buy. The location on this site plan should coincide with the information given on the title deed, therefore ensuring that you are buying what you have been shown.
The search which needs to be obtained will prove the identity of the last owner of the property/land. This will not only prove the last owner but will also show whether the property/land is free of any charges and/or encumbrances (e.g. mortgages).
This procedure can take between 5-7 days.
It is important that these procedures are completed before the signing of any contracts. If it is not possible for you to return in time for when your lawyer gives you the go-ahead to sign, you can provide your lawyer with a power of attorney to complete this on your behalf. This is a simple process, and can be completed either in our offices or in your home country using DHL.
If the property/land is owned by a Company then your lawyer should ask to see the Company registration details and/or board of Directors’ resolution to ensure that the vendor can sign the contract on behalf of the company and has the authorisation to sell.
Step 3 – Your lawyer will need to check with the site planning office to ensure that there are no restrictions about construction on the land.
Step 4 – Once all the above is completed and your lawyer has advised and given you the all-clear to go ahead with the property purchase then you need to sign a contract with the vendor.
This has previously been one property per person but recently temporary legislation has come into force allowing foreign nationals to buy three properties.
Due to the division of Cyprus in 1974, different types of deeds have come into existence, and it is important that you are aware of the type which you purchase.
The first of these is Turkish title deeds. This means that the property/land was Turkish Cypriot- owned pre-1974. This type of title deed carries no risk to the purchaser.
The second is “Es Deger”- meaning ‘of equal value’. This type of title deed was Greek-owned pre-1974, after the war. However, the Greek owners abandoned their land and fled to the South, as did the Turkish Cypriots from the South to the North. Therefore this land was then given to Turkish Cypriots in return for land which they left behind in South Cyprus. This kind of deed may possibly carry a certain risk in the way of compensation, which is now handled by the Immoveable Property Commission. As of 29th January 2014, 5749 applications have been lodged with the Commission and 476 of them have been concluded through friendly settlements and 11 through formal hearing. The Commission has paid GBP 145,019,701 to the applicants as compensation. Moreover, it has ruled for exchange and compensation in two cases, for restitution in one case and for restitution and compensation in five cases. In one case it has delivered a decision for restitution after the settlement of Cyprus Issue, and in one case it has ruled for partial restitution. For more information on the IPC, click here: www.tamk.gov.ct.tr
The Third of these title deeds is TMD Land. TMD lands at the time (after the war) were unoccupied lands which were only used as agricultural lands. These lands were used as a government incentive to increase the population in the TRNC by allocating lands to mainland Turkish citizens for agricultural and farming purposes. In recent years the law changed enabling persons to be able to take ownership of the land and to settle in the TRNC. This kind of title deed may also possibly carry the risk of compensation (only if construction has begun on the land).
A stamped Contract of Sale needs to be submitted to the Land Registry Office and the valuation will be assessed on the purchase price as stipulated in the Contract of Sale. However, the Land Registry Office reserves the right to conduct their own valuation upon the property in question if they are not content that the Contract of Sale submitted reflects the true market value of the Property. VAT will be payable at a rate of 5%, which is payable upon possession of the property. You will also need to pay the transfer tax which is payable upon the transfer of the title deed into the individuals name, which is normally 6% but can be reduced to 3% as a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity: so, if you are planning to purchase a more expensive property in the future, you may wish to reserve the reduced tax rate until such time. (Please note that these rates may possibly change in the future, and you should always check at the time of signing a contract.)
It is a good idea to have your lawyer present when signing.
Firstly, ensure that the date of signing is included somewhere in the contract. Without this the contract is not complete.
It is important that you read the contract carefully, to ensure that everything which you have agreed with the Vendor is included in the contract and that nothing is included that you have not agreed.
If there are any aspects of the contract which you do not understand you should always ask for these to be explained.
Ensure that the person signing your contract is eligible to do so, in that they are either a director of the company you are buying from, or they have authorisation to sell, by asking to see documentation proving this, e.g. company registration details and/or a board of Directors’ resolution.
Every page of the contract, including appendices, needs to be initialled by both parties signing and then the final page signed.
Two witnesses should be present when the signing takes place, and they need to sign the contract as witnesses.
Do not sign until you are 100% happy with the contract as a whole.
The purpose of having a sales contract stamped is not to make it valid. However, in the event that a dispute arises between yourselves and the opposite party and the contract needs to be used in court as evidence, then it can only be so used if the contract has been stamped. Also, in order to successfully register the Contract at the Land Registry Office, it is a requirement that the Contract of Sale is duly stamped.
To have a contract stamped within one month of signing, the cost is valued at 0.5% of the sales price as stipulated in the sales Contract. However, if the contract is stamped any later than this the cost will increase and a late penalty fee will be added.
Therefore it is in your best interests to arrange to have the Contract stamped soon after the signing, it also ties in with the 21 day limitation to register the Contract once signed.
At such a time you have the right to terminate the contract and to seek compensation, depending on the clauses which have been included in your contract with regards to this. If however no such clauses have been included then you are still entitled to claim back all the money which you have paid to the Vendor up until that time and this will require court action, in some circumstances we may urge you to consider taking an injunction proceeding against the Vendor. You can also claim back any other damages and expenses which you have incurred as a result of the vendors actions.
First of all you need to sign a retainer and Power of Attorney giving a local lawyer consent to file a case with the TRNC courts and to act on your behalf.
The court that will process your case will be determined by whichever district your property is registered under. In some cases the district of the court may already be assigned in your signed Contract of Sale.
If you have made full payment for the purchase of your property to the vendor then the vendor should have no objection to you selling on your contractual rights to the property even if the title deeds have not yet been transferred into your name. This clause should be covered within your Contract of Sale to safeguard your interests in this matter.
This is a process that would normally be included in the legal fee at the beginning of the conveyancing process. Your lawyer will submit a form with your personal details, a CRB check to be provided by you from your country of residence, a copy of the title deeds relevant to your purchase, a copy of the site plan and a photocopy of your passport to the Interior Ministry.
Once these have been submitted your lawyer will be given a reference number for this application. This number is needed in order to make any future enquiries in relation to this application.
In considering your application the Interior Ministry will take into account the following: whether your property purchase is within the specified land requirements, and whether or not it is near any forbidden military zones.
It can take approximately one and a half years for the results of this application to be released to your lawyer.
After Possession Checklist
- Transfer Electricity Meter into your name.
- Connect the Water Meter into your name (this shall not be applicable if your water is delivered via Tanker).
- Go to the local Belediye in order to make them aware that the new Property Tax Bill is to be changed into your name.
- It is also important to consider carrying out your Will here in the TRNC, if you do not carry out your will in the TRNC you may be subject to paying inheritance tax twice. Should you need assistance in carrying out your will we can provide this service.