North Cyprus Property Auctions – A National Embarrassment!

I recently attended the third property auction of North Cyprus property buyers’ homes: Homes where innocent people had paid in full and taken possession of, but unfortunately did not have their title deeds. Due to the landowners having mortgages or memorandums on the sites, the court has ordered that these properties be auctioned to pay off the landowners/builders debts, leaving the owners, who paid for them in good faith, facing possible eviction. There is another auction set for 4th July in Esentepe, and there are many more in the pipeline.

When the Estate Agents’ Law was introduced in 2008 to prevent people mortgaging land, buyers were allowed to register their contracts at land registry and finally secure their interest in the site. Instead, hundreds found out their sites were mortgaged, putting their hard-earned properties at risk. But now it also appears that if a landowner owes money to another, the debtor can place a memorandum against that land, which overrides the contract you have registered. That means that any of the thousands who don’t have their title deeds could be in the same situation!

Anyone who can attend these auctions must. We need a show of strength in numbers to let the government know this can’t continue. It’s not just an ex-pat or Turkish Cypriot problem; it’s a problem of national humanity, morality, and justice. The Turkish Cypriots were displaced by Greek Cypriots between 1963 and 1974 in Cyprus – is what the government’s doing now really any different?

And make no mistake: This is a government problem. They are the lawmakers and the buck stops with them. Whilst these property auctions may be legal, they are immoral and unjust, and strip away our human rights. In the last four years we have seen virtually no change to laws or procedures that will protect the property buyers who lovingly invested in this country. Instead, we have had empty promises, indifference, and failure to act, culminating in a mortgage and debt epidemic that is flowing through the veins of North Cyprus.

So, the economic meltdown has begun, and does anyone in the government want to take positive action? Well, we know the honourable former leader of North Cyprus, Rauf Denktaş, does. He attended the recent property auction of the Kulaksiz 5 site and asked people not to bid, recognizing that it was wrong. But where were the other leaders? I saw no one from the government at the auctions, showing their support. Nor did I see any unions or groups associated with the construction industry. Where were the lawyers, estate agents, and honourable constructors and developers? Why did they not ensure their members support these buyers en masse? Their silence is deafening.

These property auctions are the result of dangerously retarded, short-sighted business practices and laws which fail to protect property buyers. It will only create more negative publicity for North Cyprus at a time when we desperately need to encourage investment. The economy is dead, but there are many ways via positive changes in the construction industry that will inject growth into it. North Cyprus has always been the underdog, and like any underdog, it has to work harder, be fairer and beyond reproach. The last thing we need is national embarrassment and shame. How can we compete internationally when this kind of behaviour is going on? How can we ever progress economically and socially?

And, even more worrying, does anyone out there really care?

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