Tapu and Turkish Law
Legal conditions for the purchase of property by foreigners in Turkey.
The first law of real estate acquisition “Law on Property No 2644” was approved in 1934, allowing foreign individuals to acquire real estate in Turkey. In 2003 the government with the law Nr. 4916 made easier the real estate acquisition for foreigners in Turkey. This law cancelled the Law on Village No 442/1924 (Köy Kanunu) and Property Law No 2644/1934 (Tapu kanunu). However, the Law No. 4916 was later contested by the constitutional court.
New law on real estate acquisition, the law No 5444, was adopted by the Turkish Parliament on 29 of December 2005 and entered into force on 7 of January 2006. This law changed the article No 35 of the land register law No 2644 (Tapu Kanunu) and new conditions of the real estate acquisition in Turkey by foreign individuals and companies entered into force.
According to the latest amendment of laws, foreigners can acquire property in Turkey with the following restrictions:
Reciprocity Principle: The purchase of real estate by foreigners in Turkey is based on the reciprocity principle. This means, that the rights to buy property in Turkey have nationals from countries that are linked to Turkey's reciprocity agreement. At this moment, Turkey has mutual relations with 80 countries, including all countries of Europe. The list of countries that has reciprocal relationship with Turkey you can find at Turkish General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre (www.tkgm.gov.tr) in Turkish and English.
Area restriction: Foreigners can buy up to 30 hectares (300.000 m2) land for residental and business purpose in Turkey. For a larger area then 30 hectares requires permission of the ministry. In addition up to 0.5% of the total area of a province may be acquired by foreigners.
Location restrictions: Foreigners can buy property only in areas that have qualified building or local development plan. Purchasing of property isn’t possible in military forbidden and security zones, Outside these limits must for each individual property purchase , approval of the military authorities for registering by the Land Registry Office be submitted, whether it is a property in the permitted areas.
Exception: the acquisition of inheritance: For citizens of countries that have mutual relations with Turkey and inherit property, these limitations do not apply.
Legacy: Upon death the property is transferred to the heirs. With an officially translated and notarized certificate of inheritance, property in Turkey is rewritten to the heirs.
Property purchase process in Turkey: According to Turkish law is the transfer of ownership in an appropriate advance directive from the sellers and buyers, only registered at the Land Office. For Foreigners who want to buy property in Turkey is a written approval needed from the military authorities to ensure that the relevant property not in a military barricade and safety zones located is. In general this consent is applied by the appropriate Land Registry office at the responsible military authority and is received approx. in 2 months. Notaries are not involved in the contract settlement and registration at the Land Office. With the transfer at the Land Office a sworn translator must be present when the foreign party does not understand the Turkish language. For the sale settlement in the Land Registry office, personal documents and information from foreign party must be present in advance.
Required documents for private individuals:
» ID card or passport.
» Passport photos.
» Home address, names of father and mother.
» If procedure is done by authorized person, the power of attorney is needed.
» Turkish tax number (is issued by the local tax office). Required documents for legal entities (companies):
In addition to the documents above:
» A notarized signature of-fact representative of the company.
» An authority certificate, issued by the local chamber of commerce, providing overview of registered data of the company. If processing is carried out by an authorized person, the power of attorney must be submitted.
» Tax Number of the company.
After the transfer of ownership, local Land Registry office issues the certificate of ownership "Tapu Senedi". The foreign owner can resell the property at any time and transfer the sales proceed again to abroad.
What is a TAPU?
A TAPU is an extract from the Turkish real estate registry. This property registry, also known as TAPU office, is comparable to the Land Register in the UK. On the TAPU you will find in short the following information: location, a photograph of the owner, type of TAPU, data of the property and archiving data.
There are red and blue TAPU's.
A red TAPU is for a commonhold. You get a red TAPU if you buy an apartment in an apartment complex or a house in a project.
A blue TAPU can have different legal meanings :
- Building land
- Building land. There's already a house on the plot
A blue TAPU is not a commonhold.
Most foreigners who buy a house in Turkey will receive a red TAPU. The red TAPU is, therefore, the subject of this article.
There are 2 types of red TAPU's. The first red TAPU is of the type 'Irtifaki Kat'. This type indicates that you legally own the land and the unfinished building.
You receive the second red TAPU at the end of the buying process when you sign the contract at the TAPU office. This TAPU is of the type 'Kat Mülkiyeti' and indicates that you are the legal owner of the land and the finished building.
Obtaining a TAPU of type 'Kat Mülkiyeti' is a lengthy process with pitfalls and obstacles. Foreigners should hire an independent lawyer to guide them through the buying process. Underneath I have added some links to English speaking lawyers operating in Turkey.
The TAPU is a snapshot and may be outdated. So rely never solely on the information on a TAPU but always check the data in the Land Register.
Although the TAPU is no more than an extract from the Land Register, it still has great symbolic value. With a TAPU, you can realy call yourself the owner of your home.
The role of the TAPU in the buying process.
In Turkey, you can not sign a legal sales contract in the presence of a Turkish Civil-law notary. This is only possible in the presence of an official of the TAPU office. Prior to the official sale at the TAPU office you can sign a “promise-to-sell” contract in the presence of a notary. You should always record the actual purchase price in this “promise-to-sell” contract and register the contract at the Land Registry. This contract has a legal status. In case of problems, you can enforce the sale through the courts.
If a foreigner buys a house in Turkey, it is usually an apartment in a complex or a house in a project or residential park. The contractor or developer is obliged to register the apartment complex or project as a commonhold. The commonhold document is drawn up on the basis of plans and zoning. The complex is divided into independent units, and for each unit a TAPU is issued. This TAPU is of type 'Irtifaki Kat'. It is the title deed of the land and the unfinished building!
It is important that the data on the commonhold document is correct. TAPU officials are required to use this data in the preparation of the contract and the TAPU. If the information is wrong, you are in trouble.
After the completion of the building process, the municipality will inspect the construction to make sure that it is built according to the building license and the approved construction plans. If everything is ok, the developer receives a general 'Iskan', a document which legalizes the construction. If the general 'Iskan' is issued, the house owners can apply for an individual Iskan, a habitation license. This habitation license is required to connect the property to the public utilities. If you do not have an Iskan, water and light will be considerably more expensive. If you want to sell a house without a habitation license, you need to reduce the price drastically.
An individual Iskan is strangely enough not a prerequisite to obtain a Tapu. So you can own a property without a habitation license.
Finalising the sale at the TAPU office
In Turkey, the property is transferred in the presence of an official of the TAPU office. After signing the purchase contract in the TAPU office, you are the legitimate owner of the property. You don't get a copy of the purchase contract but a TAPU of the type 'Kat Mülkiyeti'. This second and final TAPU gives you the lawful ownership of the land and the finished building.
Calculation of expenses related to Tapu renewal
You can read about annual maintenance costs of real estate here.