Property in Northern Cyprus – Dream Home Or Legal Nightmare?


When thinking about purchasing in Cyprus you might come across with the possibility of buying a property in the Turkish occupied Northern Cyprus at a relatively lower price than in the Southern Cyprus. However, when things seem too good to be true, they usually are.

With this article we do not wish to provide you with a biased opinion on buying property in northern Cyprus, instead we aim to provide clear information of how the title deeds are provided in the TRNC and the risk involved.

As you must be aware Cyprus used to be a unified country until 1974, date when the country was first invaded by Turkey. The Turks succeed taking possession of the northern side of Cyprus and the Greek Cypriots that used to own land and property in that side of the island were forced to move south.

The northern Cyprus became the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus recognized only as an independent state by Turkey. As a result, the majority of title deeds issued in the TRNC over the last three decades remain doubtful.

There are 3 types of title deeds issued in the TRNC:

– Pre 1974 Turkish (or foreign) title – relative to land that was already legally owned by non Greek Cypriots before 1974. This is the safest title deed that can be obtained in northern Cyprus and also properties with this title are the most expensive, however, they are nearly impossible to find nowadays.

– TRNC Esdeger (Exchange) title – Relative to land owned by Greek Cypriots by the time of the invasion which they have agreed to exchange with the Turks for an equivalent piece of land that Turkish owned in Southern Cyprus. This type of land is increasingly hard to find, especially close to the sea.

– TRNC TMD Title – In this case, no exchange or compensation to the original land Greek Cypriot owner has taken place. This is the most common land title you will be able to get (92% of the land in the north remains with Greek Cypriot original owners) and the cheapest properties have this title. In this case, the risk of losing your entire investment and even pay compensation to the rightful owner if and when there is a political settlement to the Cyprus issue is very high.

Cases relative to the land ownership of Northern Cyprus have already been filed in both the Republic of Cyprus courts and the European Court of Human Rights where property buyers have been involved in a legal battle with the Greek Cypriot rightful land owners. As a result, it is very important to consider carefully if it is really worth the risk.

If you are looking to invest you also need to consider how easy it will be either to rent or to resale the property. Taking in consideration the issues involved with the land ownership it is not easy to sell new properties in northern Cyprus and the resale market is nearly inexistent. Also, if you are looking to recover your investment by renting out the property please take in consideration that there are no direct flights to Northern Cyprus from any destination apart from Turkey, and that situation may always influence holiday makers to travel to Southern Cyprus instead in order to avoid delays.

Last but not least it is important to question yourselves on the moral and ethical issues involved in buying property in the northern side of the island. Think about this situation as if it had happened to you – someone had invaded your family home and took possession of your land and property while you had to seek refugee somewhere else to save your life and when, years later, you return, you find that land had been sold to someone else. What would you do?

With this article we aim to alert and make aware any possible Northern Cyprus property buyers of the risks and issues involved at all levels in the purchase. With this information in place we leave at everyone’s good judgment the decision on buying or not property in this area.

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