The Title Deed status of an overseas property is the single most important thing for a new North Cyprus property owner to check before you buy. But if you are new to the North Cyprus property market you may initially find the various title deed terms confusing when searching for a property online.
This article aims to explain the terms which you may see used on both portals like Rightmove and other North Cyprus property agent websites.
If you have any questions after reading this article, do feel free to give our experienced North Cyprus International (NCI) property advisors a call in the UK or Cyprus and we will be delighted to explain it in more detail. You can reach us on +44 207 112 8086 or +90 548 861 0600 or via the CONTACT PAGE on this website.
“TRNC TITLE DEED”
- All deeds issued in North Cyprus are known TRNC Title Deeds.
- “TRNC” stands for The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – the official name of the country.
- The North Cyprus government has equal faith in all the deeds which it issues.
“TRNC Deed” is not the same as “Turkish Title Deed”
The good news is that all properties in North Cyprus which have the legal deed issued by the North Cyprus government (TRNC government) are underwritten by the government and give new owners legal protection under North Cyprus law. TRNC is the short form of “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” – the name of the country, which has been in existence since 1983. All deeds issued, irrespective of what type of historical land they are built on, are called “TRNC Title Deed”.
It’s important to note that as far as the North Cyprus government is concerned there is no distinction made between historical land types when issuing a modern TRNC deed. Therefore, North Cyprus International (NCI) advises all its clients that the single most important factor when purchasing a property is to make sure that there is a TRNC deed in place, unless the purchase is of a brand-new property when there is often a normal delay in the issuing of deeds for brand new developer properties.
“SHARED DEEDS” AND “INDIVIDUAL DEEDS”
- All deeds in North Cyprus are Freehold – there’s no leasehold in TRNC
- Freehold Deeds can be “shared” or “individual”
- Individual deeds carry a slightly higher status and tend to cost more
- Lower cost properties with deeds tend to have a shared deed
- North Cyprus Mortgages from banks or loan companies are only available on properties with individual deeds.
Probably around 50% of all deeds in North Cyprus are shared – these generally do not carry a problem for an owner.
There is no leasehold in North Cyprus. All deeds are freehold.
When looking at properties, buyers may see the terms “shared deed”, or “individual deed”.
Shared Deed – If, for example if a new owner purchases an apartment on a site where there are 100 apartments, they can be issued a deed for 1/100 of the land on which the apartments are built plus the apartment number they have (shared deed) OR
Individual deed – a deed purely for the individual apartment only.
Shared deeds are very common for apartments and are generally considered more acceptable for apartments than for villas. These terms have nothing to do with the original land status (see terms below like Turkish Deed, Esdeger, Exchange land etc).
Shared and individual Villa Deeds – Developers often issue shared deeds as a first step towards the individual deed. Individual deed properties are seen as having a slightly higher value as there are more costs involved in obtaining the individual deed – however, many owners live completely safely and happily with a shared deed. So individual deed villas tend to cost a bit more than shared deed villas.
- A villa shared deed means that the individual villa is owned but the land upon which it is built is shared between all the owners of that villa complex.
- A villa with an individual deed means that the deed indicates a private plot of land and private building which is all indicated on the deed.
Depending upon how many villas there are – and whether all owners are present, it can be possible to pay to upgrade the shared villa deed to become individual. This is a legal matter which can be discussed with your legal representative in North Cyprus at the time of, or before, purchase. It is not usually possible to upgrade a shared apartment deed.
Some TRNC agents will not specify if the deed is shared or individual (particularly if shared) – hence it’s worth asking. North Cyprus International always indicates on our property listings whether the deed is individual or shared. Any property seeker has every right to ask for a copy of the deed to be emailed to themselves or their lawyer prior to purchase so that this can be verified.
- Not all properties advertised for sale in North Cyprus have their deeds yet
- This is normal for an under construction or new build property as the government does not usually issue them until final checks on the whole completed site have been done.
Low cost, older properties without a deed could have legal issues and you should not pay a deposit until legal checks have been carried out.
Marketing portals like Rightmove do not do legal checks on the properties advertised, and there are sometimes older properties for sale online in North Cyprus at low prices which do yet not have deeds. This may indicate a legal problem if the property is more than 10 years old. This caution does not apply to new build or under construction properties – as it is normal to have a delay in getting a deed for a new build property. As a general principle, NCI does not advertise properties on our website without deeds, unless we believe there is a good chance of obtaining one soon. We are happy to give you our opinion on properties advertised elsewhere.
If you are interested in a low-cost older property which may not have a deed – get your legal advisor in North Cyprus to check the history of the property. NCI advises never paying a deposit to any agent or owner, only to a lawyer, to allow basic legal checks to be carried out.
RESALE OR NEW BUILD PROPERTY
- A resale is a property which has been pre-owned
- A new build property has just been built by a developer.
We have put this section in, as it’s important to understand the difference between resale and new build before you can understand the subsequent section on “Deed in Owner’s Name”.
There can be cost savings buying a resale rather than a new build – in that taxes have often been paid (see below), and they are often furnished with white goods, AC machines etc. However, New build properties can come with developer loans and offer a higher standard of construction and build warranties.
Most properties being sold in the UK, for example are “resales”. However, about half of all sales in North Cyprus are new builds, as the rate of building is very high. New builds almost always come unfurnished with extra costs for the kitchen appliances, furniture and AC machines. They also incur 5% VAT payment (see below).
“DEED IN OWNER’S NAME”
* Resale (older) properties are often advertised “Deed in owner’ name” VAT Paid”
* This means that there are usually fewer costs for the new owner
* The deed for a new build property comes from the developer, who gets it from the government after the project is completed
* You can have EITHER a shared or individual deed in owner’s name.
Your lawyer should double check that you don’t have to pay VAT again, even if it’s already advertised as “VAT PAID”.
North Cyprus property seekers will often see the term “deed in owner’s name” on resale properties, but not on new builds. This is an indication that there is a deed and it’s been transferred to the new owner – NOT still with the original developer.
Shared deeds are also in “owner’s name” so seeing “deed in owner’s name” on the advert does not explain whether the deed is shared or individual.
Once the deed is in the owner’s name, whether shared or individual, the VAT at 5% which is always due on new properties, has usually been paid. So buying a property with “Deed in owner’s name, VAT Paid” means there are less costs for the new buyer as VAT will almost always not have to be paid again”.
If the VAT has been paid however, without the deed being transferred, sometimes the VAT must be paid twice.
“TITLE DEED AVAILABLE”
* If you see “title deed available” it may mean that the deed is still with the original builder.
* If the deed is with the builder, you will be liable to pay 5% VAT upon purchase, even with a resale.
If you see that there is a “title deed available” rather than Deed in Owner’s Name – this can mean that the deed is still with the developer and that although someone has lived in and owned the property already, the deed was not transferred to the new owner. Hence when someone buys this property, they will be getting the deed from the original builder rather than the private seller. This can happen either because the previous owner bought it from new when the deed had not yet been issued OR sometimes because the previous owner did not wish to pay the 3% transfer of title tax and deliberately left the deed with the developer.
Even if there has been a previous “owner”, if the deed is still with the developer, VAT at 5% will be due.
PRE-74 TURKISH TITLE, PRE-74 BRITISH TITLE OR EXCHANGE (Esdeger) LAND
* Pre-74 refers to the historical land status prior to the division of the island and is not indicated on the new TRNC title deeds issued today.
* Before 1974 all land was divided into “Turkish Title” and “Greek Title” with a small amount of “British title”. Often, it’s not even known today what the former status was.
* Pre-74 land is a v small % of the land mass of North Cyprus and these properties are generally the most expensive and only in very restricted areas.
* Some Turkish Cypriots prefer to buy “Turkish Title” or “Pre-74” as this is the land owned by their ancestors.
* Our agency NCI only sells NEW property built since 1974 and regards all properties with a valid TRNC deed as secure investments.
There EU approved Immovable Property compensation scheme funded by Turkey provides compensation to former Greek Cypriot owners – taking any compensation liability away from new owners.
You may see when viewing North Cyprus property adverts, the statement “Pre-74 Title Deed” or “Turkish Land/Deed”, “Turk Mali”, “Exchange Land/Deed”, Esdeger Land/Deed”
Due to the unusual history of Cyprus, where in 1974 the island was effectively partitioned, there are historic terms which refer purely to the land status before division (ie: “Pre-74 and Post-74”). These are not governmental terms. These terms refer purely to who owned the land before 1974 and not to who owns it now. It’s not always known any more.
Some people, particularly Turkish Cypriots, are interested in who owned the land before 1974 and like to buy properties build on their ancestral land. This is known as “Turkish Title”, “Pre-74 Turkish Title” or in Turkish language – “Turk Mali”. As this is so popular with Turkish Cypriots, and more rare, it tends to be more expensive. Most of this land is near the cities and not on the beach.
There is another phrase – “Exchange” or in Turkish “Esdeger” which refers to land where there has been an exchange with lost land in the South. Most investors prefer to purchase this, as this tends to cost less than Turkish Title but is seen as legally very sound. Most property sold by NCI is on Esdeger Land.
Former Greek Cypriot landowners are due compensation for lost land – this is paid for by the EU-recognised Immovable Property Commission in North Nicosia. There is no question of individual owners of brand-new properties in North Cyprus such as those sold by us at NCI having to pay a former Greek Cypriot compensation themselves. Despite this, there are incorrect statements on the internet that there could be a compensation risk for individual buyers of anything other than Pre-74. 90% of all the residents of North Cyprus live in properties which are not built on Pre-74 land. It is not possible that 90% of a whole country would have to pay compensation and this is the main reason that the EU Courts of Justice recognised the Immovable Property Compensation scheme.
If you wish to learn more about the history of land – you may wish to refer to our other article “Misconceptions about North Cyprus property” – the final section.
TURKISH LANGUAGE TERMS
As Turkish is the main language in North Cyprus, you will often see Turkish terms used in property advertising. Here is a brief summary
Turk Mali – Turkish Land Deed
Kocan/Tapu – Names for Title Deed
Esdeger – The Turkish word for Exchange land
TMD – “Turk Mali Degil” – without Turkish Title Deed.
FIND OUT MORE
If you have any further questions about North Cyprus Property deeds, please do CONTACT US and we will be glad to explain. You can also ask your chosen NORTH CYPRUS LAWYER your questions during any future INSPECTION TRIP.