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Turkey, due to its natural beauty and warm Mediterranean climate, has become a popular location for the purchase of real estate by foreign investors. In accordance with the Land Registry Law, foreign nationals will be able to buy real estate in Turkey provided that they comply with the various legal rules and regulations.
Is it safe to buy property in Turkey? Yes. However, since Turkey is located on one of the world's more active earthquake zones, the resistance of the property to damage from an earthquake must be taken into consideration and insurance is strongly advised.
1. What should be considered in terms of earthquake safety?
- Firstly, considering the earthquake map of Turkey, attention should be paid to the location of the real estate to be purchased. While the risk of earthquakes is very high in some parts of Turkey, it is low in others. In addition, even in the same city, the rates of exposure to earthquakes vary according to the characteristics of the grounds.
- It should be taken into consideration that the purchase of real estate made in accordance with the latest regulation in effect will minimize the problems that may be encountered in the future. Turkey’s earthquake regulations were revised in 1947, 1953, 1961, 1968, 1975, 1998 and 2007. Comprehensive changes have been made to the regulations, especially after the Izmit earthquake that occurred in 1999. For this reason, if the real estate you are purchasing was built before 1999, the risks related to an earthquake will increase. The Turkey Building Earthquake Regulations ("Regulations") published in the Official Gazette dated March 18, 2018 and which entered into force on January 1, 2019 are the latest regulations concerning this matter. Earthquake regulations include the minimum conditions required to be applied for the earthquake-resistant design and construction of the buildings, taking into account the earthquake zone where the building is located and the characteristics of the land on which the property is built. In accordance with the current regulation in Turkey, persons who have responsibility for the building are subject to the legislation in force at the time of the construction. Those responsible are not expected to anticipate the changes in the future regulations. However, it will be in their favour if people who want to buy real estate that is in accordance with the latest Regulation in effect.
- Another issue that people who will buy real estate often overlook is that the building to be purchased must comply with the earthquake regulations as well as the zoning legislation. The Zoning Law in force in Turkey ensures that the settlements and the structures in these places are formed in accordance with the plan, science, health and environmental conditions. Buildings that are against the zoning legislation can be encountered as follows:
(i) unlicensed structures or structures contrary to the license and its annexes;
(ii) structures that pass on someone else's property;
(iii) structures dangerous enough to collapse.
Violation of the zoning legislation is subject to both penalties restricting freedom and administrative fines. There may be periodic zoning amnesty implementations for buildings built against the zoning legislation in Turkey.
The said institution was developed with the aim of registering unlicensed structures or those contrary to the licence and its annexes, and establishing a reconciliation between the state and the citizen within the scope of disaster risk preparation. It must also be determined whether the real estate to be purchased is processed within this scope.
- It is important that the real estate to be purchased has a condominium ownership (“kat mülkiyeti”). This shows that the building was completed in accordance with the plans and regulations. The condominium deed is proof that the building was built in accordance with the zoning legislation at the time of its construction. However, even if it has a condominium ownership deed, changes can be made to the building later. For this reason, having only condominium ownership deed does not make the building compliant with the relevant legislation and all applicable regulations.
- It is possible to have the strength and performance test done by evaluating the technical and structural aspects of the building. Some structural and technical aspects of the building can give an idea about the earthquake safety of the building. Examining the ground floor, columns and beams of the building, checking whether there is water insulation, whether ready-mixed concrete is used or knowing the core concrete strength taken from the building can be an indicator of the earthquake resistance of the building. Applying to the official institutions or contracting with a private company to have this test and to learn the status of the building is a way to eliminate the question marks.
2. Responsibility of the real estate owner for earthquake
People who are considering purchasing real estate from Turkey should not forget that their responsibilities are wide according to the relevant legislation, even if they think of living in or renting the real estate.
In accordance with the regulation in the Turkish Code of Obligations, firstly, the building owner is hold liable for damages of third parties caused by the earthquake. Tenants who suffered damage due to the earthquake have the right to apply to the building owner in terms of damages, even if the owner of the building does not have any fault regarding the construction of the building.
After compensating these damages, the building owners can have recourse to those responsible for the construction of the building. In order not to encounter such situations, it is important that people who are considering purchasing real estate make a decision after research on the earthquake resistance of the building.
3. Compulsory earthquake insurance ("dask") and housing / workplace insurance
We recommend that people who plan to own real estate in Turkey take out Compulsory Earthquake Insurance. Compulsory Earthquake Insurance provides compensation for some of the financial difficulties that may be encountered after an earthquake. Failure to take out this insurance is not subject to a penalty. However, note that, if this insurance is not taken out, it will not be possible to establish electricity and water subscriptions with title deed transactions.
Apart from this insurance, which has a definite scope and does not cover all losses, it will be possible to compensate for other damages with regular housing or workplace insurance. The coverage of housing / workplace insurance can be expanded with main and additional guarantees.
If it is included in the housing / workplace insurance coverage, it is possible to secure the property in the purchased real estate against all situations such as fire, flood, flood, explosion, lightning strike, earthquake, theft and terrorist acts.
Is it safe to buy property in Turkey?
You will best build up safety around your investment following two parallel ways: insurance -besides it is a must- and a local lawyer expert in Property Law. He/she will help to deal with insurance companies and ensure the best conditions for your contract, plus direct advice and support in the event of actually needing to rely on the insurance due to an earthquake episode.