An Introduction to Turkish Property Law for Foreigners
Knowing the basics of Turkish property law is essential for anyone thinking of buying a home in the country. This will help safeguard your interests, but also ensure that after you’ve chosen your new home, you can stay involved with the legal process of applying and signing for your title deeds. Before we start though, let’s answer a common question.
Is it safe to buy property in Turkey?
Yes. There are many foreign home owners in Turkey, some of whom live here all year round, while others just use their homes for holidays.
At the turn of the century, when Turkey passed laws allowing foreigners to buy Turkish real estate, the outdated system was a hindrance but these days, smooth-lined procedures and clear guidance, as well as advice, ensure foreigners are entirely in the driving seat.
Which nationalities can buy property in Turkey?
Up until 2012, many foreigners were restricted from buying property in Turkey because of reciprocal agreements. However that law was abolished in 2012, and now many nationalities can invest in Turkish real estate. A vast majority of nationalities have no restrictions, but a few do, and you can read more about them here.
Need to Know Turkish Property Law for Foreigners
The first aspect is to know what you can and cannot legally buy. According to the Turkish land registry law 2644, namely articles 35 and 36, a foreigner can purchase residential properties, commercial premises and land.
Restrictions that are in place include…
- No more than 30 hectares countrywide
- No more than 10% of the total area of a defined district.
- The property or land must not be within a military zone
Do I Have to Use a Lawyer?
No legal laws say you must use a lawyer, but as a foreigner, you are strongly advised to. The lawyer is responsible for drafting the sales contract, getting it notarised and checking the property for debts or military restrictions. Attempting to do this process, without any knowledge of the language, law or system is a foolhardy endeavour. (Read more here)
As a foreigner, sales contracts need to be translated into your home country’s language, and when signing for title deeds at the land registry office, you are also legally obligated to use the services of a translator. This person must be officially accredited and licensed. Both the land registry and notary offices have lists of translators that they legally work with.
Can I Appoint a Power of Attorney?
You can appoint someone as POA to buy and/or sell property on your behalf. However, the wording must be exact as outlined by the Turkish government and not a general template. Most people appoint their lawyer, but it can be anyone you choose. If you can’t make it to Turkey to draft a power of attorney, visit the Turkish consulate in your home country to carry out the procedure. See a draft power of attorney here.
Applying for Military Clearance
Most foreigners get alarmed when they find out they need military clearance, but it is nothing to be worried about. The check is done on the property and not the person, and your lawyer will carry out the process for you. In previous years, waiting for the clearance often took four to six months. The system has changed now though, and approval usually comes through within two to three days. NOTE: SINCE MARCH 2019, MILITARY CLEARANCE IS NO LONGER REQUIRED.
Can I Get Turkish Citizenship by Buying Property?
To get Turkish citizenship by buying real estate, the value of your new home should be at least 250,000 USD, and you must keep it for three years.
What Taxes Need to be Paid?
When you purchase property in Turkey, you need to pay a stamp duty tax that is 4.4% of the purchase price. Sales agreement differ though, and if your new home is a resale, this is split between the buyer and seller.
Selling your home within five years incurs capital gains tax on Turkish real estate. Turkey has many agreements with countries around the world, and you won’t be subjected to double taxation through your home country’s legal laws.
Can I Rent Out my Property?
You can rent out your home, but two laws must be adhered to. If you plan to rent out short term, i.e. market it for holiday rentals, you must sign up to the GIYKIMBIL system. This involves registering the details of each person that stays in your home. The second is to pay income tax on rental returns and the local tax office in each district advises on how to declare your income.
If I Buy Property in Turkey, Can I Work?
Being a homeowner in Turkey doesn’t automatically entitle you to work legally. This is a separate process that needs a permit.
This article covers the most frequent questions about Turkish property law for foreigners, but you can also contact us by phone, email or by dropping into one of our offices, if you have more questions and want to speak one-to-one with a sales representative.
Alternatively, read a step by step guide to the buying process as well as our hints and tips to make sure your dream of a home in the sun goes smoothly.