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Real Estate Acquisition in Turkey

Foreigners’ Real Estate Acquisition in Turkey

The regulations regarding the acquisition of real estate by foreigners in Turkey are primarily governed by the Real Estate Law. However, there are also various restrictions in other laws. Article 35 of the Real Estate Law refers to these restrictions found in other laws. In this article, we will first examine the limitations outlined in the Real Estate Law. Then, we will discuss restrictions in other laws. Finally, we will touch upon the facilitations for foreigners in real estate acquisition.

Limitations on Foreigners’ Real Estate Acquisition in the Real Estate Law

According to the Real Estate Law, the conditions for foreigners’ real estate acquisition are as follows:

– The property area that a foreigner can own should not exceed the specified national and local limitations.

– There should be no restriction, suspension, or prohibition on real estate acquisition through a decision of the Council of Ministers.

– For properties without building permits, there is an obligation to develop a specific project.

– The individual must be a citizen of one of the countries determined by the Council of Ministers.

NOTE: In 2012, an amendment was made to the Real Estate Law, abolishing the “reciprocity principle” specifically for foreign real estate acquisition.

Area Limitation for Foreign Real Estate Acquisition

It is stated that the total real estate area should not exceed 10% of the district’s private ownership area, and there is also an emphasis on a maximum limit of 30 hectares per person. Additionally, the Council of Ministers has the authority to double this 30-hectare quantity.

NOTE: Article 35 of the Real Estate Law does not impose a specific limitation on the discretionary power given to the Council of Ministers. Therefore, it can be stated that the Council of Ministers can increase the area without specifying any reason.

Council of Ministers’ Restriction, Suspension, or Prohibition Decision

When necessary for national interests, the Council of Ministers has the authority to determine the real estate acquisitions of foreign individuals. This authority also includes the power to restrict these acquisitions.

The Council of Ministers also has the power to partially or completely suspend or prohibit acquisitions based on various factors such as country, individual, area, and time. The rationale for using this power is defined as “national interests.”

Project Obligation for Unfinished Real Estate

The 7th paragraph of Article 35 of the Real Estate Law allows foreign individuals to acquire “unfinished real estate.” This term refers to properties without a permanent structure or facility above or below. However, a project for such unfinished real estate must be submitted to the relevant Ministry for approval within two years.

NOTE: The General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre has clarified that the “within two years” expression does not refer to the approval of the project but to the timeframe for submission to the Ministry.

Other Restrictions in Laws Regarding Foreign Real Estate Acquisition:

Military Restricted Areas and Security Zones

First-Degree Military Restricted Areas

These areas, critical for national defense, include the surroundings within 400 meters of military zones deemed essential for the defense of the country, and 600 meters along the land border and specified coastal areas. It is prohibited for both Turkish citizens and foreigners to acquire properties in these military zones.

Second-Degree Military Restricted Areas:

Second-degree military restricted areas are the regions within a 5-kilometer radius of first-degree military restricted zones. Turkish citizens are free to live and work in this area, but it is forbidden for foreign individuals to acquire property in these second-degree military restricted areas. The Council of Ministers can decide to liquidate previously acquired properties by foreigners in these areas, but it is not mandatory. It is at the discretion of the Council of Ministers. If the Council of Ministers does not make a liquidation decision, foreign individuals’ property rights in these areas continue.

Restrictions in Irrigation Areas:

The Council of Ministers can make regulations in necessary areas to ensure efficient cultivation of land and continuous increase in agricultural production. As part of these goals, land consolidation can be carried out by the relevant organization without the consent of landowners.

Restrictions on Agricultural Land:

Regulations have been made for planned land use to prevent the natural or artificial loss of land and to preserve its quality. According to these regulations, it is determined that agricultural lands cannot be divided into parcels below a certain size. Transferring or assigning areas defined as agricultural land in small parcels is prohibited.

Restrictions on Private Educational Institutions:

The properties owned by foreign schools can be transferred to the relevant Ministry or foundations with educational purposes with the permission of the Council of Ministers.

Facilitations for Foreign Real Estate Acquisition:

The acquisition of immovables within the borders of Turkey is subject to certain restrictions. However, there are legal regulations that provide facilities in this area:

Facilities Introduced by the Tourism Incentive Law

To promote the development of the tourism sector and attract investors, the Tourism Incentive Law was enacted. This law includes special regulations for the use of immovable properties for tourism purposes. Accordingly, exceptions to the restrictions on foreigners in the Real Estate Law for real estate acquisition in tourism centers can be granted by the decision of the Council of Ministers. To benefit from this exception, the foreign individual must obtain a “tourism investment certificate” or “tourism facility certificate” from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Facilities Introduced by Long-Term Residence Permit

The long-term residence permit is an opportunity offered to foreigners residing in Turkey who meet certain criteria. This type of permit is granted to those who have lived continuously in Turkey for at least eight years or meet the conditions determined by the Immigration Policies Board.

Article 44 of the law states that holders of long-term residence permits can benefit from the rights granted to Turkish citizens, except for certain exceptions. This gives individuals with long-term residence permits a different status compared to other foreigners.

The procedures for real estate acquisition in Turkey for individuals with this permit are carried out in accordance with the legislation applicable to Turkish citizens.

Facilities Introduced for Those Who Renounce Turkish Citizenship

Individuals who wish to renounce Turkish citizenship for various reasons are granted an exit permit or exit document by the Ministry of the Interior in accordance with Article 25 of the Turkish Citizenship Law. Individuals who lose Turkish citizenship in this way and transition to foreign status have legal status distinct from foreign individuals. This distinction also applies to issues such as real estate acquisition.

In this context, individuals who were born Turkish citizens and later renounced citizenship with the permission to leave, along with their third-degree relatives, will have the same rights as Turkish citizens without being subject to the conditions applied to foreigners when acquiring real estate.

Facilities for Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) Citizens:

There is a special situation regarding the acquisition of real estate in Turkey for citizens of the KKTC. These individuals enjoy the same rights as Turkish citizens and are exempt from certain legal restrictions imposed on foreigners. Thus, citizens of the KKTC can benefit from the rights and opportunities applicable to Turkish citizens when purchasing real estate in Turkey.

Foreigner’s Unauthorized Real Estate Acquisition and Sanctions According to the Real Estate Law

The last paragraph of Article 35 of the Real Estate Law determines the sanctions that arise when certain obligations are not fulfilled during the real estate acquisition process. The situations specified in the article include:

– If real estate is acquired in violation of a court decision,
– If it is determined that the real estate is being used in a manner contrary to the purpose of acquisition,
– When an unfinished real

estate is purchased, and necessary projects are not developed within a specified period,

The owners of such real estate are obliged to liquidate the property within a period determined by the Ministry of Finance, not exceeding one year. If the real estate is not liquidated within this period, the relevant Ministry will liquidate it. The proceeds obtained will be paid to the owner of the property.

Procedure for Foreign Real Estate Acquisition

In the Turkish legal system, real estate ownership is officially transferred by registering it in the land registry. To transfer ownership, an application must be made to the land registry office, and an official document must be signed.

During the application to land registry offices, foreign individuals are required to provide documents such as the real estate title deed or all information about the property in the land registry, the identity card or passport of the foreign country (with translation if necessary), a document showing the value of the property obtained from the relevant municipality, mandatory earthquake insurance for buildings, two photographs, and if the applicant is a representative, a power of attorney.

For further assistance or consultation on this matter, feel free to contact us.

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