ÖZKAN MURAT “Together with the People”, Girne

Tuesday 19 September 2006

Homebuyers Pressure Group Questions

 Q1.      Explain the stages of the Permission to Purchase process and the reason for each stage. 

When a foreigner wants to purchase an immovable (land/ property) from the TRNC Government, the following stages need to be undertaken; 

a)     Firstly, submit in writing, information required regarding the purchaser and the immovable to the Ministry of Interior Affairs. 

b)     For the immovable property, The Ministry; requests information from the Land Registry and Survey Department about the immovable property concerned. This office holds information regarding the type (plot, house, field, flat etc) and location (military) of the immovable property.

 

1. Security Investigation:

a.      Whether or not the immovable property concerned is in a strategic area.

b.      The police will request background information from the purchaser’s country of origin.

c.      The location (military area) of the immovable property concerned is searched. 

2.      Land Registration Search: This concerns background on the ownership, type (plot, house, field) of the immovable property and whether or not the land is freehold.  

Q2.   Foreigners now have to submit a Police Reference with their Application, how has this helped the process? 

The submission of Police Reference is to help the completion of Security enquiries within a shorter period of time. The recent surge in applications to buy immovable properties has caused delays in completion of these enquiries and consequently they have been taking longer than before.  

With the submission of Police Reference by the foreigners themselves from their country of origin, a security enquiry need only be made investigation regarding the property. This will expedite the process.  

Q3.   Is any follow-up carried out by your Service on each of the stages? 

Yes. The Unit follows-up every stage, within the legal framework.  A good co-ordination exists between all units concerned.  

Q4.   What is the purchase entitlement for foreign buyers? 

Once the necessary search is done and the Council of Ministers takes a decision, a foreigner can buy a house or land not larger than one dönüm (about a quarter of an acre)

Q5.   Is a married couple classified as a single buyer? 

The Immovable Property Law does not distinguish between married couples and single buyers. However, under Family Law, the core family is defined as father, mother and single children.

Q6.   If a problem is discovered with the Permission to Purchase application who is informed of this?  Is any follow-up carried out to ensure that the application proceeds? 

Once reports requested by the Ministry are completed and there is no problem, the application is taken to the Council of Ministers for permission for the sale of the immovable property. 

Q7.   What happens if a buyer has paid in full for their property, and taken possession, and is then refused Permission to Purchase? 

If a buyer changes their mind after becoming owner of the property, and sends a cancellation letter to the Ministry, then we will send a cancellation motion to the Council of Ministers to cancel the permission concerned. 

Q8.   If a purchaser has employed a third party to handle their Permission to Purchase application, will the third-party should be held responsible for the following? 

a)       Will submitting the application be delayed?

b)       If the owner of the property calls, will your department look into the application and answer the questions?

c)        When the Permission to Purchase has been approved will the buyer be informed? 

If the buyer applied by means if a third person:

a)  Submission of the application may be delayed from time to time. This also wholly depends on the person making the application.

b)  If actual owners call, our unit responds as best as it can.

c)  Once Permission to Purchase is completed, the buyer or the intermediary is informed orally. In the future, it is planned to make this confirmation in writing.  

Q9.      If a Permission to Purchase application takes a considerable time to process, due to no fault of the purchaser, and property values have increased during that time span, who should be responsible for the increase in tax payable? 

Delays occur in Permission to Purchase applications because the investigations pass though various stages which can extend the process. Therefore, our Ministry cannot be held responsible for this.  Our Ministry is also working to shorten the time taken.  

Q10.   Do you think the current Permission to Purchase process works for the foreign investor, the construction industry and the TRNC as a whole? 

Permission to Purchases and related procedure in the TRNC is the same under current legislation for foreign investors.   

Q11.   As a Government, what kind of procedure are you thinking while foreigners wait until they receive their Permission to Purchase?  

As a Government, work is carried out to complete the sale permissions in short periods of time.  

Q12.   Do you think it is the responsibility of the Estate Agents and Lawyers to inform foreign purchasers that it is against the law to proceed with the purchase until they have received their permission to purchase? 

When Permission to Purchase applications are made by means of Estate agents or Lawyers, they are also responsible for informing the foreigners.  Implementation of the rules cannot be hindered if they fail to do this.  

Q13.   Why are estate agents allowed to market properties to foreigners that are not eligible for purchase by them? Why do lawyers allow the sale of such properties to proceed? 

Foreigners own immovable property in TRNC according to Cap (109), Acquisition of Immovable Property (Foreigners) Law and the Directives issues under this law. Such procedures are carried out under the name of the buyer. Thus permissions are issued as such.  

Q14.   The government is aware that there is a vast amount of illegal building work being carried out.  What are they doing to rectify this?  

In TRNC, there are two basic laws regarding development, construction and space planning and many other complementary laws too, helping the implementation of these laws. There are two basic laws.

 

1.   Cap 96 Streets and Building Regulation Law

2.   55/89 Planning Law-Town and Country Planning Law        

         In addition to these basic laws, the other effective laws are as follows:  

                  Environment Law

                  Antiquities Law

                  Beaches Law

                  Water Law

                  Quarries and relevant Laws

                  Industrial zones Law

                  Municipalities Law

                  Forest Law

                  Land Registration Law

                  Tourism Accommodation and Promotion Law, and

          Many other relevant laws inherited from British period are complementing implementations regarding development and construction and are affecting implementations.   

         In places where a plan or a directive under development law is in effect 

·         Before obtaining a construction permission based on Cap 96 Streets and Building Regulation Law for any kind of development, or

 

·         Before obtaining permission for activities other than construction and building defined as development under development law and is subject to permission under other laws.

 

One needs to obtain planning confirmation under Development Law.

For the activity (development) which received panning confirmation, a construction permission is obtained under Cap 96 from the municipality and if it is outside the border of the municipality from the district office.  

In places where there is no plan or directive in effect under Development law, the authorized units are the municipalities and in places with no municipalities, district offices. Municipalities or district offices are issuing construction permission and undertaking controls under Cap 96 Streets and Building Regulation Law.  

City Planning Department is not the authorized unit under Cap 96 Streets and Building Regulation Law. It works as a consultative body for municipalities and district offices.  

Q15.   Is it against the laws of the TRNC to commence construction prior to receiving a full Building License?  If yes, why are these people not charged with breaking the law?  

According to the law in effect; no development can be started without obtaining construction permission. According to Development Law, in places where a plan and a directive are in effect, construction permission cannot be obtained without a planning confirmation. Thus, in such places no construction can be started without planning confirmation and contraction permission. If started, a crime has been committed according to relevant laws.  

Q16.   Do you think building should commence before water and electric have been supplied to the site? 

     No development permission is given to a land before its entire infrastructure is completed.  

Q17.   Do you think the Property Sales Agreement which is drawn up by a lawyer between the seller and purchaser is legal and binding by both parties? 

Sale contracts are done between buyers and sellers by means of a lawyer. Because buyers are foreigners and it is not known whether they will get permission from Council of Ministers, it has not possible to register sale contracts at Land Registry department. They can apply to the court if there is a disagreement between them.  

Q18.   Why is the land owner not required to submit the original Koçan with the building permission application or in exchange for the building license? 

There is no legal obligation.  

Q19.   Should it not be a requirement to sub-divide the land into each property plot prior to marketing? 

According to our laws it is not necessary to sub-divide land prior to marketing it.  Sale with shares is possible. However, it is not shown in the land registry to which section of the land sold, the shares correspond to.  

Q20.   If a Building License is granted and the builder (constructor) subsequently changes the design of the property what is the process?  

·         Change is always possible in a place with no planning confirmation or at a project with no permission for building, as long as the change/amendment is in line with the regulations and with the previously approved form of the project. 

·         Changes/amendments, any development area or inside the building that’s being practice by Planning Confirmation and Planning Confirmation of change/amendment and/or will cause change of the condition or will affect the conditions of Planning Confirmation, to have this type of changes/amendments, current plan or mandate and it is within concerning subject and that a project had received a Planning Confirmation can once again obtain changes/amendments and with the condition can obtaining Building License is always possible. 

·         Upon the Planning Confirmation that is given does not affect the change/amendment and/or change the conditions or does not affect, that changes/amendments are within the current planning or mandate and it is within the other legislation and a project that obtained Planning Confirmation together with the changes/amendments made is always possible.   

Q21.   Why Building Permit Applications are not permitted to publish in the newspapers?

There is no legal requirement for the publication of construction permissions in official gazettes or daily papers.  However, publication of information about Planning Conformation in the quarterly official gazette is required by Development Law and relevant Planning Confirmation.

Q22.   When an immovable property is purchased, unsuitable for habitation due to incorrect structure, (unsafe electric installation, improper plumbing, etc) do you think that purchaser should receive a full refund at current market value?  Plus damages from the builder?

A solution can be found based on the contract or legal document between the buyer and seller.

Q23.   Is there any formal Town and Country planning for the Kyrenia District?  If so, why is it not readily available to potential purchasers?

         There is no a comprehensive plan under Development Law which encompasses Kyrenia city or the Kyrenia region. However, there is White Area Directive encompassing previous municipal borders and the area known as the White Area, and there is Kyrenia Environment Preservation Plan which is en effect in the center of the city encompassing Kyrenia Port and the region known as Old Turkish Quarter and respective centers of these areas.

         In areas outside of this region, there is Alagadi Environment Preservation Plan encompassing Alagadi Turtles Private Environment Area and Beylerbeyi Directive encompassing Bellapais Monastery and the surrounding area. In areas outside of these regions, the Tourism Area Directive is in effect since 1985. A short time ago Girne II Area Interim Directive has taken effect.   

According to Development Law, in areas where a plan or a directive is in effect, any person/potential buyer before buying a property or any seller or estate agent before putting a property on sale, should obtain prior permission regarding whether the concerned property is open to development or is subject to what rules and condition by applying to the City Planning Department.  This procedure helps to prevent any problems, and it is an obligatory procedure.

 Q24.  Are there any restrictions on when construction work can be carried out during the day and                  night?  If so, are they enforced?

 There is not. But, work can be carried out day and night provided they do not disturb the environment.

 Q25.   How does Specific Performance Law works?  Is it of any benefit to foreigners?

   Effort is underway to make it work to the benefit of foreigners.

 Q26.   When the new government (department) is will overcome to deal with property problems?

Measures that will facilitate the problems will be put to effect as soon as possible.

 Q27.   What controls and regulations are forthcoming to safeguard foreign property investors?

 There is no such regulation.

 Q28.   What is the current situation with Aga Developments?  When will the immovable properties be completed, when will the government issue Aga buyers with the Certificate of Ownership?

         Aga Developments, after sorting out problems within the company and because it is a private company, title deeds can only be given once the company applies to the Land Registry and Survey Department.

 Q29.   Why are all buyers not issued with a Certificate of Ownership?

 If legal rules are followed and buyers and sellers abide the agreement, they can obtain a certificate of ownership, otherwise they cannot.