Naomi Long MP said: “The case was initially raised with me by one of my own constituents and, through her, I have met other people who purchased property in the same resort and have been appalled at their account of their experiences. They are now involved in court action in Turkey; however, despite over a year and £20000 of legal fees on one aspect alone, a resolution, if one can be found, remains a long way off. In the meantime, they have had to spend significant time and money, which they can ill afford, to protect their original investment. Far from being the relaxing get-away they had hoped for, they have been consumed with fighting for even the most basic rights, such as to appoint their own management company and to independently audit the accounts. The people who invested, have often sunk their entire life savings into these properties and for some, the cost of ongoing legal action, with no certainty of outcome, is just unaffordable and they have simply been forced to walk away.
“Whether it’s allegations of management companies illegally surcharging for utilities, overcharging for the work they do, or leasing out property without either the permission of the owner or paying them their rental income, the home owners feel that their concerns are not take sufficiently seriously by the local authorities. All these issues can turn holidays of a lifetime into holidays from hell.
“Whilst I accept that the UK Government cannot get involved in individual property disputes in other jurisdictions, this is a much wider issue than a simple property dispute between two individuals, with allegations of more widespread corruption and fraud affecting a significant number of UK home owners. In such circumstances, I think the UK government can and should raise this issue robustly with the Turkish Government to press for the changes in the law which are required to protect foreign investors from fraudsters.
“Since securing the debate, I have also been contacted by other people from around the UK who have had similar and, in some cases, even worse experiences on different developments. Some have paid money for property and arrived in Turkey to take ownership only to find that it also been sold to someone else or remortgaged. Obviously locally, there has also been a very high profile case where buyers were duped buyers out of nearly £4m in a scam involving property in Turkey. I think even just this small snapshot illustrates the need for urgent action to protect and support people who are considering buying holiday homes, so that the sector is more robustly regulated and that they fully understand the risks.
“There is a significant reputational risk to Turkey as a holiday and investment destination if they don’t act to bring this under control, and given the scale of the overall investment by buyers in the UK and Ireland, it would clearly be in their interests to ensure that the proper safeguards are in place. The Turkish Embassy in London has acknowledged that they are aware of the issue of “fraudulent builders” in correspondence. The question now is what action they will take to regulate this industry better and what influence the UK Government can have to make this happen.”