In conjunction with the Citizens Advice Centre we recently ran a poll to determine what percentage of non-Turkish property buyers had a full title deed (Tapu) registered in their name. From those that responded we were surprised to find that as many as one out of every four owners did not yet have a Title Deed registered correctly in their name. In at least two of the cases we reviewed, the properties had been purchased over five years ago. The reasons for the delay in the legal transfers taking place generally fell into two main categories.
In the first group there was nothing legally preventing the transfer taking place and both the buyers and sellers were willing and able to go through the necessary steps to facilitate the exchange of rights and obligations.
It seemed, generally, that either party simply hadn’t got around to doing it yet, were unsure of exactly what was required of them or had left it in the hands of a third party to carry out on their behalf and that person had not yet completed these instructions.
The second group were in a more difficult situation as there was often a major hurdle preventing the transfer. Although one party was ready to carry out their obligations, usually the buyer, the other party, usually the seller, would not, or could not, do what was being asked of them. The people in this group were obviously in a serious predicament whereby they could potentially lose their investment and, in some cases, their only homes.
The legal position in Turkey is quite clear. Until the title deed is in your name you are not the legal freehold owner of that property. If the current legal owner, for example, dies or gets into financial difficulty, your investment may be at risk. Unless a fully notarised agreement, registered at the Land Registry, is in place, the current owner is not legally obliged to transfer the property to the buyer. Usually, where payment for the property has already been made, you can only start a case to claim back that money and any consequential losses and then only from the person you actually gave the money to.
If you are unsure as to where you stand regarding your own situation you can contact the Citizens Advice Centre. The volunteers will be on hand to help you get to the bottom of it and hopefully point you in the right direction. All enquiries will be dealt with in the strictest confidence and any advice you receive will be free of charge. Go to page 11 for their address, contact details and opening times.