First, let’s start with what you may find on Social Media: In the event of reconciliation no one is coming to your house and throwing you out. There are folks saying that if the two states reunify you could lose your home if you buy in the North. This is flatly wrong. Consider this: nobody says purchasing the same class of property in The Republic of Cyprus will result in the same outcome. Why? Because it’s simply not true.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, if everything and I mean every last step goes wrong, you could be forced to pay for the value of the land as it stood in 1974 on some types of deeds. Being a largely agriculture Island, all land that has been developed was open pasture. You conceivably could owe for the value of the land in 1974 Pounds, not its value today and certainly not the value of the improvements on the property.
For this to happen all parties would have to ignore the legal documents in place and pass the blame on to the current property owner. We are talking about maybe two-thousand Pounds or so in most cases. This would require Turkey, Greece, The Republic of Cyprus and North Cyprus to go against their written guarantees and that would almost certainly be struck-down in The European Court of Human Rights. In other words, it ain’t too likely.
The basic explanation: there was a decision by the European Court of Human Rights in 2006 creating the Immovable Property Commission and buyers of property in North Cyprus no longer fear that their property can be claimed by Greek Cypriots. Now all the claims are directly dealt with by the Immovable Property Commission, and compensation for the land is paid by two guarantor countries – Turkey and Greece.
On to the topic at hand: There are three major types of deeds in North Cyprus; Turkish Title Deeds, Exchange title deeds, earlier Greek land TMD. Let’s explain each type of deed:
- Turkish Title Deed: These are homes and work places that belonged to Turkish owners before 1974. These are commonly considered the safest type of deeds because they were owned by Turkish Cypriots all along.
- Exchange Title Deed: After the armed conflict in 1974, Turkish Cypriots were forcibly moved North. These war refugees were given deeds for lands that were the equivalent to the lands they owned in the South. In return, they gave up any rights to their old land and the same took place with refugees in the South.
- TMD Title Deed (Tahsis land): This is a title deed awarded to Cypriots and others from certain countries as a reward for settling in North Cyprus. This was also a reward for military service. As an aside, this is the most common deed Ex Pat buyers receive and is most likely what you will get. These deeds are guaranteed by the Government but are considered the least strong in the event of reconciliation.
Now, you may well see a sub-set of the above, shared title deed being the most common example. This is perfectly fine and is still a legal deed.
It is also normal to buy a home that does not yet have a deed. Often, large open pasture areas are purchased by a developer and must be sub-divided before issuing the final deeds. These deeds cannot be issued until the entire complex is complete and in the case of a large resort, that in normally several years. In this case, look for a reputable developer you believe will finish the complex. Ask what the transfer cost will be to receive your deed. Again, this is normal here and don’t be put off of an otherwise great home.
In all cases you will receive a Contract for Sale. This contract must be registered at the local Land Office and this is the equivalent of a deed for almost any purpose you care about. You can sell, rent, or use the home as you see fit using this contract. Occasionally, people never get, or want, their deeds as there are taxes involved with the transfer and the sale contract allows for a new sale to take place anyway. Obviously, you should consult a Solicitor before taking such a move.
There is one class of properties you must avoid: Greek Cypriot homes. As you drive around, you will begin to notice these old houses, they are mud brick construction and mostly falling in. Weeds over-run old yards in front of empty houses. Do not work with any Estate Agency that offers such a house. This is the one class of deed that would be returned to the old owner should they choose to move back after some future event.