Today, many people question whether they can acquire real estate based on the Ottoman Deeds or another old document showing ownership. Although, mostly, it is unlikely to gain ownership by this way, if the document at hand remains valid and the correct procedures are followed true owner can also be a registered owner.
The Turkish Civil Code of 1926 stipulated that the real property rights such as ownership existing based on the old law would be preserved in the new legal period. Therefore, there is no such thing as the loss of entitlement for this period. Therefore, the loss of ownership right in the new legal period is never in question.
The document meant by the Ottoman title deed is actually minutes registration books (Zabıt Kayıt Defterleri). These are the books in which records of real estates owned by individuals whom right of alienation and tenure granted. It can be said that they are the equivalent of today’s land registry.
Article 19 of the Law on Application of the Turkish Civil Code; “The provisions of the Turkish Civil Code regarding the property law are also applied where the minutes registration books are kept, to the extent that it is possible.” proved that the minutes registration books are still valid in determining the ownership of real property.
The important point is that whether the ownership rights arising from the minutes registration books are preserved during the cadastral survey. It is known that legal and substantial determination is made during cadastral survey. While making legal determination, it is also determined who owns the property right. Therefore, it is taken into consideration while making cadastral survey on a real property that whether the people who own the Ottoman Deed or its heirs are also owners.
In the Article 13 of the Cadastral Law, "Principles Regarding the Determination of the Right to Property", the procedure to be followed is stated regarding determination of ownership of the property registered in the title deed. It is clear that the real estates registered in the registry include the real estates registered in the minutes registration books as it was explained above that the provisions related to the property law would be applied to the minutes registration books to the extent that it is possible.
According to Article 13 of the Cadastral Law, a dual distinction was made while determining the right to property: During the cadastral survey; 1) the situation where the registrant (the person registered as the owner in the minutes registration books) also possesses the real property, 2) the situation that the registrant and possessor are different persons.
In the first case, if the registrant or his heir is also possessor of the real property registered in the minutes registration books registrant or his heir is registered as the owner of the property right when the cadastral survey is made. If the heirs of the registrant cannot be appointed, the property is determined on behalf of the registrant by deducting the dead annotation.
The second is that the registrant and the possessor are different people. The possessor registered as owner of the property 1) in case of consent of the registrant or 2) if the possessor proved that he acquired possession of real property off the record, and also possessed at least ten years without any contention, interruption and as an owner or 3) if the owner of the land registry is not understood, if it is not contested and for twenty years without interruption and as a property owner
If these provisions are not applied during the cadastral survey, the real property owners may have been identified incorrectly and the real owners may have lost their properties. For instance, the presence of heirs during the cadastral survey may be ignored or inheritors could not be found despite the researches and examinations. In this case, the person who proves that he inherits the real property registered in the name of the dead can transfer the title deed to himself. Or consider the second case, the registrant or his heir may request the registration of the real estate on his behalf, claiming that this registration made on behalf of the possessor is unlawful in the situation that the real property is registered in the name of possessors although 10-20 years of contradictory and uninterrupted possession, as stipulated by the law, has not fulfilled.
As apparent from explanation above it is still possible today to acquire a real property through Ottoman Title Deed. However, it should not be forgotten that there are also periods of prescription to claim against cadastral survey.