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IbrahimAbi

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I heard from  a friend recently that house sales to foreigners are being blocked if the house is on the Kas peninsula, does anyone have more information on this?

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Here is the text of a message circulating around Kaş at the moment. I should stress that it only affects property owners on the peninsula in Kaş at the moment so if you are a property owner elsewhere make enquiries in your own area if you wish to.

 

For this explanation thanks go to Colin Andrews.

 

BACKGROUND

 

If you have possessed property in Turkey for any length of time you will be aware of the constant changes to the law pertaining to property sales to foreigners. These have plagued foreign buyers over a number of years. Last year it became an objective of TC Gov. to open up the market to foreigners by relaxing the law on where and which foreigners can buy in Turkey. They publish figures showing how well the relaxation of the law is encouraging foreign investment in Turkey in each region. So it was hoped that the days of shifting goalposts were over, however a contrary move has now been made which is jeopardising the property market in Kaş and in Turkey. In Kaş the problem is specifically confined to the Peninsula (Yarımada), but it could spread to other residential parts in the future. No one is safe, who will be next? Potentially 99% of houses in Turkey could be deemed illegal if this folly spreads!

 

Many foreigners have owned property in Turkey and lived here for many years. They have invested heavily in the property market, supporting the local and Turkish economy by our investments, living expenses, the employment of locals and the punctual payment of all required taxes. This includes the builder’s national insurance and income tax which must be paid before a living permission license is granted. Foreigners have invested their life savings with Turkish banks, buying government bonds and investing in interest accounts, so providing a further capital inflow to the country.

 

Until recently foreigners could only buy property that was within the boundaries of a Municipality. The Peninsula was included within the boundaries of Kaş, whilst the villages in the hinterland were not, even including much of the adjoining Çerçiler suburb. This convenient arrangement was made purposely to encourage foreigners to invest in relatively expensive property on the Peninsula. When the major development of the Peninsula took place it caused a major and ongoing benefit to the economy of Kaş and a very significant increase in tourism revenues. At this time the Peninsula was considered to be the safest place to build in the area with respect to a foreigner obtaining a clean title to the property in their own name. Perversely things have changed and the reverse is now true. Foreigners can now buy property in the villages, but not on the Peninsula!

Many of us purchased land on the Peninsula and then used local architects and builders, relying upon them, the real estate agents (Emlak) and our lawyers, to acquire the necessary licences, rights and permissions. This is what foreigners are familiar with in their home countries. Land and houses on the Peninsula were bought and sold without a problem.

 

Many property owners here are unaware that these normally acceptable circumstances have now changed, starting with a legal amendment made in May 2013. The new procedure for selling properties on the Peninsula has neither been announced officially nor promulgated. It just crept up on us. Up until now those of us who were aware of the problems have avoided making this issue more widely known as there was no wish to cause a scare before the true facts were established. Trying to determine these has been akin to plaiting fog, but we now have a tenuous grasp of the situation, hence the reason for this distribution of the information. Further, many folk are now starting to hear the bad news and they are requesting information. So here are the facts as known now.

 

THE PROBLEM

 

Since May 2013 a new regime has been covertly introduced which requires that all sales of property on the Peninsula are submitted to a newly created body in Antalya which has been established for this purpose. This was formed when the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s Historical and Environmental Preservation Council was split into two, with the latter now being tied to the Ministry of the Environment and City Planning.

 

Apparently, one of the responsibilities of the new Environmental Protection Council (EPC) is to review whether buildings in an area, which is subject to town planning, are in accordance with the rules and regulations with respect to environmental protection. This covers the whole of Kaş and Kalkan.

 

For areas chosen by the EPC the Municipality now has to wait for the EPC’s review before granting any building permit, change of title deed or occupation license. This can take many months for each application.

The EPC has currently started its work only in 3rd degree environmentally protected areas (SIT).

 

It appears that, unbeknown to most foreigners, the Peninsula has always been classified as a 3rd degree environmentally protected area. It was known that special planning rules applied but thought that this was just the result of the particular town planning (Imar Plani) that had been granted to the Journalist’s Association who started the original development. Perhaps some buyers did not even know this?

 

We do not know what is the difference in planning rules between a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree protection area and no clarification has been offered.

 

The mandate of the EPC is to review all past projects and to attempt to straighten out issues that have been “overlooked”. This is being done piecemeal when a sale takes place. At the time of a sale the EPC now reviews whether the original project adhered to the environmental rules. What exactly this means has not been defined and this is where the real problem lies. Unfortunately it appears that the EPC is taking a draconian approach and any pettifogging detail can cause the sale to be blocked. What one has to do to satisfy the EPC is unclear. Nobody has managed it yet! Their refusal to grant permission makes it impossible for the Belediye to issue the paperwork necessary for a sale. It appears that the EPC and the Belediye are at loggerheads. Maybe someone is searching for the guilty and corrupt?

 

It can be noted that the responsibilities and powers of the Belediye in Kaş will extend much further when the new Municipal boundaries are extended by the current Elections. So more areas could be embroiled in these differences.

 

Trivial changes to a project, which occur quite naturally whilst building, especially in difficult terrain, with primitive surveying methods, can cause a project to fail the examination. So if a swimming pool is a few cm out of place; a window is the wrong shape; the position of a door has being moved; the roof line is 20 cm too high or too low, etc. these are all perceived as non-compliance. Nowadays they have the benefit of GPS to check all this!

 

When an application is made to the EPC a team of their technicians descends upon the property and measurements are taken of everything. GPS scans are examined and numerous photographs of the property are taken. These are all then compared to the original project plans which are filed with the Kadastro and the Belediye. All this takes a considerable amount of time and you can guess who has to pay the costs!

 

The result of such scrutiny is that the EPC has effectively blocked every sale on the Peninsula, to a foreigner, since they took control, usually citing that some detail is different to the original plans submitted, regardless of these having being signed off by the Belediye, the Kadastro and having all relevant permissions in place.

 

Buyers have relied on the integrity of the endorsement of property sales by the Belediye and they have either built, or purchased a previous owned property, with confidence that it is fully compliant with regulations and that there would be no problems arising in the future. Many people have invested their savings in such properties either for retirement or as an investment for their future retirement.

 

The action of the EPC is particularly unfair to older residents who may wish to transfer properties to their children; maybe sell and return to their home countries to live in sheltered accommodation; to downsize; or who are forced to sell due to ill-health.

 

It can be understood that where a building is blatantly illegal, for example, with depots converted into living space; additional extensions added; more stories than allowed; more living space than sanctioned; access built over green land, boundaries extended; etc. then it may be right that penalties should be imposed. What these might be we do not know! There is no information. In such projects the boundaries were measured by the Kadastro and the building was purported to the property buyers as being legal by the builders. This was further reinforced by the Belediye issuing title deeds (TAPU) and living permission (İskan). So who is in the wrong and who should pay any remedial costs and the fines that may be levied?

 

Are we going down the same route as Spain with building permissions being granted by corrupt officials and then deemed illegal, leaving the owner with no recompense? Are the local officials inept or corrupt, or is there another reason? Is the EPC or the Belediye going to make this information public and commence prosecutions if officials are found to have worked outside of their remit?

 

We can foresee a reverberation through the property market in Turkey as this becomes more publicly known. Local businesses and employment will begin to suffer and the reputation of Turkey and Kaş as a safe place to invest will be ruined for years.

 

We can all see the need for controls and adherence to regulations, so why are new projects still being built on the Kaş Peninsula which are blatantly outside of the current regulations? The Belediye Zabita officials visit these and still the green light is being given to proceed with the projects. This is perhaps why it has very recently been stated that no new building permissions at all will be granted on the Peninsula. Who is making these decisions?

 

 

As a note: Turkish lawyers are not expected to perform due diligence on a property transfer unless they are specifically so instructed. They only do the conveyance. This is different to the standard practise in most European countries. So you have no recourse to malpractise unless your written and notarised instructions to the lawyer stated that they were responsible for due diligence.

 

DISCRIMINATION

 

Now we come to the really bad part. The EPC is only taking action against foreign purchasers. If you are a Turkish national you do not need to obtain a report from the EPC. This is conspicuous and significant discrimination by the Turkish authorities and it is contrary to: the Turkish Constitution, which broadly states that foreigners have the same rights as Turkish citizens; The European Charter of Economic Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory; and the principle of international reciprocity. That is, a Turkish citizen has the same right as a European person to buy property in the EU but we do not have similar reciprocal rights on the Peninsula.

 

Transactions have been observed where property has been sold to Turkish citizens without the EPC referral process. Checks made with the TAPU office have confirmed that Turkish citizens do not need to obtain an EPC report.

 

Turkish citizens, knowing that they are the only possible buyers are driving hard bargains which has already caused a substantial fall in the value of properties on the Peninsula.

 

CURRENT AND FUTURE ACTION

 

A meeting has taken place with the Kaymakam and at his request, the signing of a petition by a few residents was organised. This has been translated and presented to him. He has responded quickly and sent a request for the attention of:

    [*]The Governorship of Antalya [*]The Provincial Directorate of the Department of Environment and Urban Development [*]The Municipality of Kaş that is the Mayor

 

The reply is awaited. Translated copies of the documents are attached

 

As can be seen from these documents it has been determined, regrettably, that the only course of action is to apply for an amnesty for all properties on the Peninsula which were purchased before 2013, even though many of us believe that our properties are legally compliant and most of us know of many that aren’t. Trying to determine rules for which properties are legal and which are not would be a nightmare and inspections and arguments would take many, many years causing severe problems for us all. Maybe properties that have been subsequently modified without permission should be exempted from the amnesty but even determining these would be very difficult.

 

It can be noted that amnesties have been granted previously. Usually just before an election! It is a moot point that properties given an amnesty may now have again become illegal!

Clarification from the EPC is required as to what, realistically, they deem as an infringement. Perhaps we can persuade them to lower the bar.

 

Another course of action would be to try to get the Peninsula declassified from a 3rd degree environmentally protected areas to something else. As we have no idea of the rules applicable for any degree of protected area this may or may not be beneficial. We don’t even know whether it is possible. A Town Planning expert would have to be employed to determine this. We know that TC Gov. is capable of changing the use of swathes of countryside to promote political ambitions but we have no idea whether a change of classification would be possible for the Peninsula. An educated guess would be that it could only be authorised by the highest levels of TC Gov. Perhaps the British Consulate or other European Embassies might be able to help on this particular issue?

 

Consultations with the British Consulate are already occurring to request their help and to see if they can put any pressure on the Vali and the EPC to resolve the issues, particularly the discrimination against foreigners, which must be well within their mandate. It will be necessary for foreigners of all nationalities to approach their Embassies using this document as the basis for a brief. Any volunteers for this please co-ordinate with me.

 

Maybe if Turkish citizens are also forced to obtain clearance from the EPC we will see a higher profile given to the problem. It has already been intimated by the EPC that Turkish buyers should be included within the new regulations. Apparently they are giving the Kaş Belediye a directive to this effect. Nothing has happened yet, we will see.

 

Next, it is intended that a representative delegation of foreigners, preferably from a few nationalities, will travel to Antalya to see the above named officials. There will be the usual problems in organising consecutive appointments and having to use a translator. Any help from bi-lingual residents and property owners would be welcome. It will not be worthwhile doing anything until after the elections.

 

Another action that can be taken is for all of you to send an email to the appropriate officials. A standard letter can be supplied which you can modify and them send to the email addresses which would also be supplied. If the various Authorities get a hundred requests for action they must pay some attention. Again we will wait until after the elections.

 

A final course would be open a class action against the Turkish Government both in the Turkish Courts and the European Court of Human Rights. Such action should be the last resort as it will be expensive and very difficult to organise, it will take years and it will benefit neither the economy nor reputation of Turkey and Kaş.

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No I'm not aware of any yet.

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To all those effected lots of luck. When friends on mine (Turkish/Swedish couple) bought on the peninsular back in 2000, they were told most of the peninsula was protected land so further developments would not be possible. Thay paid top marks for a beautiful villa in a fairly isolated spot. At that time development was limited to the first third of the peninsula. I am guessing from your brilliantly researched and written explanation that they would have been told the rest of it was a 3rd degree environmentally protected area. Since then development has exploded. If indeed most of the later developments have breached planning regulations, those in charge should perhaps be searching for the guilty culprits, rather than unfairly laying the burden on foreign owners. Oh but I forget, this is Turkey, where justice has no place.

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To all those effected lots of luck. Oh but I forget, this is Turkey, where justice has no place.

Would you please expand upon your allegation? Are you referring to previous governments, a specific and current governmental entity, regional government offices, all of the present government, or perhaps the entire Turkish nation?

 

Please define justice and give us examples and then compare these examples to places where you believe justice does have a place, such as the United States, the UK, Australia or perhaps Afghanistan? In your essay you might give us examples of how justice has its place in these other countries which you site for comparison. Please also give us examples of where justice has no place in Turkey and compare or contrast those examples in the other countries you cite. This would give us some means to understand, compare, and contrast your definitions and examples of real justice from no justice or just some justice. Any other arguments you can bring to help us understand your meaning would be welcome.

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For the sake of simplicity, I'll just change the last sentence of my paragraph, expressing my opinion, feelings, whatever you want to call them.

 

"Oh, I forgot, this is the 21st century where predator capitalism and global fascism are accepted as norms. In my opinion, (providing individuals are still allowed to have an opinion that differs from others), justice is not only blind these days, it can be bought."

 

I've lived in the world for many years now and I despair that the ethics I was brought up with, respect for others, honesty, freedom of speech (even if you don't like what others have to say) and so on, are no longer rated as important or indeed relevant. The line you commented on in my first post comes from that despair and could just as easily be applied to my feelings about events in Syria, Venezuala, the Ukraine and in Australia, which I no longer choose to call home because of these changes.

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I hate to interrupt, but please let's get back on topic. Would you please use the PM system for this change in discussion?

 

I'm learning a lot here about how property purchases can go bad, I hope they get this sorted out.

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As a note: Turkish lawyers are not expected to perform due diligence on a property transfer unless they are specifically so instructed. They only do the conveyance. This is different to the standard practise in most European countries. So you have no recourse to malpractise unless your written and notarised instructions to the lawyer stated that they were responsible for due diligence.

 

I wonder what else they are supposed to be specifically instructed to do. I would think a check on the allowed use of the property would be included in their services.

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Hi Guys,

 

 this situation has to be revisited rationally by the administration , as this would hurt the confidence of future foreign buyers having their eyes set on Turkish real estate. I am sure there is going to be an amicable out come , after all The Republic of Turkey is certainly no banana Republic as I see they have come of age.. But I agree Justice delayed is justice denied.

 

Good Luck !

Raj

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When it comes to building regs in coastal areas there have been many instances of 'anomalies'. A good friend of our bought a house outside Bodrum and was informed (correctly) by his lawyer that no-one could build in front to block the sea view as it was a a green belt area.

 

several elections later it was not a green belt area, or some other deal was done. End result no sea view, deflated value, friend now in France.

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