There has been long deliberation on this matter, and the amendment was accepted by the parliamentary Justice Commission in the past couple of weeks, subsequently accepted by Parliament and submitted to the president. Upon publication in the Official Gazette, the new law came into force.
The first of several amendments to come into force concerns the matter of acreage. Since 2006 foreigners have been able to acquire properties in Turkey of a maximum two-and-a-half hectares. With the new legislation citizens of particular countries, to be determined by the Council of Ministers, will be able to acquire properties of a maximum 30 hectares, on the condition that they comply with legal restrictions and the interests of the country. The Council of Ministers is authorized to double this limit.
A second amendment concerns features of the property. Under the old legislation foreign real persons were able to acquire property in Turkey for business or residential purposes only. The amendment enables foreigners to purchase unconstructed properties, provided they submit a building development plan to the related ministry within two years. If the development project is not carried out, cancelation proceedings will be initiated. The amendment aims to increase foreign investment in Turkey, and consequently the scope of the sale of property to foreigners has also been expanded.
It is certain that the most important amendment to the law is the revocation of the reciprocity rule. Reciprocity is the granting of equal rights to a citizen of a country as that country grants to Turkish citizens. Reciprocity had made it nearly impossible for foreign real persons to acquire property in Turkey. There is no such rule governing the purchase of property in democratic, economically developed countries, and such restriction does not reflect the new system of a global economy.
Does revoking the reciprocity rule mean that all countries’ citizens will be able to buy properties in Turkey? The new law states that the Council of Ministers is authorized to determine the nations whose citizens will be permitted to acquire property. This discretionary power is, of course, more amenable than the rule of reciprocity.
The other restriction is that the Council of Ministers is authorized to determine, limit or prohibit acquisition of property by foreigners with respect to country, person, territory or measure on condition of state interest.
Revoking the rule of reciprocity does not mean doing away with the red tape of purchasing property. A foreigner wishing to purchase property will first apply to the Land Registry Office responsible for the area in which the property is located. Following this application the Land Registry Office will send a petition to both the municipality and the military to establish any limitations on purchase, such as size limitations or the land being located in a forbidden military zone.
There are also some amendments to circumstances outside the purchasing of property. If the inheritors of a deceased person do not apply to the Land Registry Office within a maximum of two years for change of ownership, the Land Registry Office will be able to carry out this process automatically. The land registration will be updated as co-ownership. This practice will resolve a major disruption, as land registers on behalf of deceased persons were causing disorder with long delays in the process.
Another amendment concerns the process surrounding the absence of a property owner. Once 20 years have elapsed from the time of declaration of the absence of a property owner, the property may be registered in the name of a third party, provided they have occupied the property for 20 years without interruption.
Enaction of this new law shall hopefully be beneficial to the property market and investment in Turkey.
NOTE: Berk Çektir is a licensed attorney at law and available to answer questions on the legal aspects of living in Turkey. Please kindly send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. If a sender’s letter is published, names may be disclosed unless otherwise expressly stated by the sender.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is intended to give basic legal information. You should get legal assistance from a licensed attorney at law while conducting legal transactions and not rely solely on the information in this column.