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July 03, 2012, Tuesday

Turkish property scams again

In 2005, when the first big crackdown on foreign property investors happened and the Constitutional Court annulled the 2003 bylaw to the 1934 Property Act, dramatically decreasing the number of foreigners buying land in Turkey, I wrote an article about what was happening.

People, mostly UK citizens, lost money, and some of them never took ownership of their properties or were misled about the quality of the house purchased. Following the article, I received a threatening phone call from a developer in Bodrum accusing me of meddling in the Turkish property market. I was bewildered by the suggestion. A bunch of crooks cheated people and planted doubt in the minds of future property investors and I was found guilty! Even writing these lines now, I know that I will receive a couple of nasty emails or comments.

Property scams over the past decade have put a black mark on the Turkish property market, that’s for sure. Not only individual property investors but also some professional property investors have been victims of scams in Turkey and lost money.

Turkish property scams come in many shapes and sizes. There are some extreme examples of fraud, including selling a house that does not even exist, or selling a house with a fantastic sea view but delivering a house with a view of a waste water management facility. The buyer in the latter example at least receives a house and can be considered lucky. A very common occurrence is delivering a house with defects. Even if the property deed is delivered on time, some people suffer quality problems. What is the liability of the developer for such defects?

Liability of seller for defects

The Turkish Code of Obligations contains special regulations about the defect liability of a seller deriving from the sale agreement. Furthermore, special defect liability clauses can be created by the parties. According to the Turkish Code of Obligations, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the buyer shall promptly notify the seller, before accepting the transfer of the property, about defects that are immediately noticeable. Otherwise he or she is considered to have accepted the real estate together with its defects. However, if the defect is not noticeable at once but appears only after the property has been used for a certain period, the seller’s liability covers this defect as well. Last but not least, in some cases the builder’s liability would also cover the defects.

In order to avoid any loss of rights due to time limits or other technicalities, the defect should be assessed by a court survey as soon as it is discovered. Taking pictures and recording the extent of the defect is also very important for the success of a possible case if the developer fails to rectify the defects.

Obtaining legal assistance is advisable, and the best way to gain time is to notify the developer following the court survey and let them know that the defects will be remedied at their cost and the invoice will be collected if they fail to come back and rectify the defects in a timely manner. The time to be given depends on the scale of the defect, of course.

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 [email protected] 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.

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