Language barriers make Brits legally vulnerable in Turkey

Language barriers make Brits legally vulnerable in Turkey
Published:  28 Aug at 9 AM
The authors of a new study have warned Brits against buying property in Turkey if they do not have a good enough grasp of the language. The Legal Adaptation of British Settlers in Turkey study found that poor language skills prevented expats from gaining Turkish citizenship, and in turn stopped them from enjoying many civil and legal rights.

British expats, Dutch expats and Turkish nationals were interviewed in the study, which was compiled by Queen Mary, University of London. The expats interviewed reported that buying property, gaining citizenship and learning the language were the biggest challenges they faced while living abroad.

Led by Dr Prakash Shah and Dr Derya Bayir of Queen Mary and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the study asked participants questions relating to various legal issues and immigration. Those with a poor grasp of the language reported that they found the Turkish legal system complicated, slow and unfair.

However, Brits now make up the biggest group of foreign property owners in Turkey, with most moving to the country in their retirement in search of a “better life”. The researchers warn, however, that expats who can’t read and speak enough Turkish leave themselves vulnerable when it comes to investing in property.

First of all, Dr Shah points out that those who do not have a strong grasp of the language are rarely given citizenship status, meaning they are exempt from certain rights. There are many restrictions about where foreigners can buy property, and a lawyer is not required to be part of the process.

Dr Shah even claims that some lawyers will act against their clients best interests if they know the seller, for example, and that those who buy property with a foreign partner could find they lose their whole investment if the union breaks up.