18 April 2014, Friday
Today's Zaman

Parliament passes bill on sale of real estate to foreigners

3 May 2012, Thursday /ALİ ASLAN KILIÇ
Parliament on Thursday passed a bill concerning the sale of land to foreigners by eliminating the reciprocity requirement and increased the limit on foreign buyers to 30 hectares.

The new law, which was discussed and approved in the Parliament, amends title deed laws and changes the current reciprocity requirement, which dictates that the citizens of 89 countries currently do not have the right to own property in Turkey because Turkish nationals are not entitled to own property in their home countries. Among these countries are Russia, the Gulf States and the Turkic republics of Central Asia. The law also increases the limit on the size of land foreign buyers can purchase from two-and-a-half hectares of vacant land to 30 hectares, and buyers will have to comply with a condition to provide plans for the construction of a house on the land before they make the purchase.

Foreign individuals and businesses will be required to submit their project proposals for the vacant lands to the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning within two years. If the ministry approves the project, it will be sent to the local land registry office, which will then monitor it.

Opposition parties put up a fierce resistance to the bill, criticizing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) for obeying orders coming from large businesses such as the construction sector. The final decision on the articles of the law will be made by the Cabinet, which will be able to determine which of the 89 countries will be added to the list of countries whose citizens are able to purchase property. The Cabinet will also be able to increase the 30-hectare limit on property purchase to 60 hectares as it deems acceptable.

Furthermore, the law allows for the purchase of up to 10 percent of the total area of towns densely populated by foreigners. The Cabinet will be able to set limits and bans on the law depending on the country of origin and the number, type and qualifications of foreign businesses which have property in Turkey. Only individuals and private businesses will be allowed to make land purchases, meaning entities such as public institutions, state-owned businesses and the like belonging to foreign countries will be barred from doing so.

The Ministry of Defense is also expected to prepare a map of restricted areas, military zones and strategic areas and submit the information to the Land Registry Directorate General within one year as of the date of the Cabinet approval published in the Official Gazette. Republican People’s Party (CHP) Balıkesir deputy Namık Havutça criticized the AK Party for prioritizing ways to recover from a $300 billion current account deficit (CAD) on the country’s agenda while diverging from the real concerns of the public. During his speech in Parliament, he stressed the importance of the reciprocity agreement and said, “Bringing this bill to the attention of Parliament is imposition of foreign capital on the current government.” Other deputies demanded that the AK Party consider more important issues, such as teachers who are waiting to be appointed to schools, workers employed on temporary contracts, and the prevention of violence in the country. Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar defended the law, noting the importance of its contribution to the tourism sector and foreign investment. “The law will bring more investors, more tourists and more capital to the country,” he stated.

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