Buying property in Turkey risky for expat Brits

Published:  28 Aug at 9 AM
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A new study has shown that British expats living in Turkey leave themselves particularly vulnerable in legal problems if they do not have a good enough grasp of the language. The survey, carried out by Queen Mary University of London and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, found that buying property was a particularly dangerous minefield for foreigners who do not speak and read enough Turkish.

The Legal Adaptation of British Settlers in Turkey study interviewed mainly British expats who had moved to Mugla, a popular tourist destination. They were asked questions on immigration, legality issues and their preference between British or Turkish law.

Dr Derya Bayir and Dr Prakash Shah, who led the study, also interview Turkish people and Dutch settlers and looked at statistics pulled from government records. Most of those interviewed were above the age of 50 and had chosen to retire in the country for a “better life”.

The expat participants said that language barriers, immigration status and property acquisition were some of the biggest issues they faced when living in Turkey. Brits who do not know enough Turkish can also only gain restricted citizenship, which means many civil and legal rights are out of reach. A lack of language skills were also found to prevent expats from integrating fully into the society.

Most of those interviewed claimed that the Turkish legal system is more complicated and bureaucratic than the British legal system, although this also seemed to correlate with low language skills. However, despite these feelings, official figures show that Brits now make up the largest group of foreign property owners in the country, with 15,502 owning homes as of September last year.

Dr Shah warned that Brits who don’t have good enough Turkish can face many problems when buying property in the country, as no lawyer is required to help with the process. Even if one is hired, they may act in the interest of the person selling the property, the doctor said. Dr Shah also warned that even if a foreigner buys a property with a Turkish partner, a court action after a breakup could go in the national’s favour, even if the foreigner put up all of the cash.
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