Property buyers are being warned not to buy pre-1974 Greek Cypriot houses in the TRNC.
In a report by Turkish Cypriot daily Cyprus Today, the head of the TRNC Estate Agents Union Hasan Sungur has said that because of a clause currently being discussed in the Cyprus negotiations:
“My advice for people wishing to buy property is not to be directed to buy old Greek houses in North Cyprus. This is because there is talk that the former owners of property who were more than 10 years old [in 1974] could be eligible to return, having gone through a commission [which is to be formed]”.
Basing his statement on information from “Turkish and Greek Cypriot sources” said to be privy to the negotiation process between the two Cypriot communities on the island, the estate agents’ union chief spoke out after Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday that “the rights to employment, free movement and [to] acquire property have been agreed in the ongoing talks”.
Sungur added: “I do not believe that property built after 1974 and which has the approval of the architects and engineers’ chamber will have a problem, but buying old Greek Cypriot homes always carries risks, because [even] a child who was 10 years old in 1974 would be able to stake a claim for the return of the house. I understand that there is agreement between the two sides on giving the right to return to the house under such circumstances. The reason for this is based on emotional attachments to the [property]”.
He said that final agreement on a “right of return” for Greek Cypriots to the North could have a significant impact on Kyrenia because government decrees in 2005 and 2006 limiting the height of the new buildings, meant many older houses remain standing.
Sungur claimed 9000 Greek Cypriot families could return to Kyrenia alone and this would “make many of those living in former Greek Cypriot home tenants, because many of those homes were not demolished”.
He said that there was still an agreed cap on the number of Greek Cypriots who could return to the North and dismissed as “untrue” reports that people with ‘equal value’ (exchange) deed property would have “extra privileges”, saying that possessing a title deed, or having the right to one, would be the determining factor.
However, he said of reported requests by the Greek Cypriot side for the establishment of a separate category for foreign property owners: “There is nothing that should cause discomfort to foreign buyers. They will enjoy all the rights afforded to TRNC citizens”.
He also said that the term ‘current user’ was currently being debated, and added: “Based on our contacts, we understand that there is agreement on a broad range of issues related to property headings”.
Sungur said that he understood that in the case of land that had been developed, its former owners would be compensated. He cautioned however, that it was too early to determine whether the solution being negotiated was “a good one or a bad one”, and dismissed Anastasiades’ comments as “preparatory for the upcoming presidential election”.
No-one from the TRNC government was available for comment, the report concludes.