Bad Real Estate Deals: How to Recover Losses?
One of the most common legal disputes that foreign nationals face in Turkey is a bad real estate deal. These disputes consist of two elements: A buyer (usually a foreign national) makes a down payment (“deposit”) or pays the full price of a real estate in Turkey, and the seller cannot/doesn’t deliver the ownership of the real estate. Non-fulfillment of the seller’s obligation may happen for different reasons; sometimes the construction cannot be completed for one reason or another. Other times, the seller might simply be acting with fraudulent intentions.
According to Turkish courts, a seller refusing to deliver the ownership of a real estate in Turkey while denying refund is by itself not a crime of fraud, but only a civil dispute. To consider an act as a fraud, the perpetrator must be acting with fraudulent intentions. For example, if a buyer pays for a real estate in Antalya and the seller disappears with the money without delivering the ownership of the real estate, this by itself is only a civil dispute. On the other hand, if the seller provided false documents to give himself/herself credibility, or if he/she sold the same property to different buyers, then this act is considered to be performed with malice and is therefore a fraud.
Whether or not the seller acted fraudulent, all the money that a buyer pays to a seller for the purchase of a real estate may be claimed back, if the ownership isn’t transferred to the seller. In this respect, even if the buyer withdrew from the deal without any reason, all the money that is exchanged can be claimed back by a lawsuit. Even if it the parties had signed a contract that stipulated that the down payment was a “non-refundable deposit”, the buyer can still claim it back, because such contracts are considered to be invalid under Turkish law.
When real estate deals go sour, the victims can recover their losses via unjustified enrichment cases. One of the biggest challenges in such cases is the proof of payment. This can be a challenge because buyers are often convinced by the sellers to make the payment in cash, without any trace of payment through bank. It is important to know that under Turkish law, payments cannot be proved solely by witnesses or text messages.
In order to prevent disputes from happening and to avoid huge losses, foreign nationals are highly recommended to consult with a real estate attorney when buying a real estate in Turkey.
Antalya Lawyer Baris Erkan Celebi and his Antalya Law Firm offer legal assistance and legal consultation to foreign nationals with regards to buying real estate in Antalya, doing the background checks such as any debts, mortgagees, reservations and relevant permits, confirming the location of the property, reviewing any deals between the buyer and the seller or the realtor, securing the payments and safeguarding the clients’ rights and interest.