This could be a problem

As the mayor explained to journalists, “No-one owns a permanent property in any part of Istanbul.”

Not sure whether that’s just a reference to how places always change, nothing is permanent. Or that it really is true, that there are no secure property rights. If the second that would seem to explain some of Turkey’s problems.

As is too infrequently noted, the Ottoman Empire is what you get with a 100% inheritance tax.

19 thoughts on “This could be a problem”

  1. I was once told that one reason that Palestinians who had had their property stolen by Israel or Israelis could never get compensation was that the Ottoman Empire didn’t have a satisfactory system for recording property ownership and so the owners couldn’t demonstrate ownership to the satisfaction of the Israeli courts.

    Here it would have been easy: in Scotland, you’d have first checked at Register House; in England you’d have looked at the deeds. But not in the Ottoman Empire apparently.

    The nearest equivalent that I know of in the last couple of centuries in England is the tale of how Cambridge Corporation stole the rights of the Commoners on Midsummer Common. I also happen to know of an ancient Cambridge College which, there is evidence to believe, can’t demonstrate ownership of some of the land it’s owned for centuries. No names no pack drill.

  2. PJ O’Rourke makes a similar observation in “Peace Kills”. He observes that (as is often noted) Egypt started off with a lot of advantages over Europe, but fell behind – and attributes it to property rights.

    The explanation is a bit long to quote in a comment, but if you have a copy of the book it starts around the middle of chapter 5 (on page 98 in my paperback copy).

  3. Dearieme, Israel still applies ottoman property law in the West bank
    Use it or lose it, essentially. So you can go build a settlement on some unwanted hilltop and the only recourse is if you actually did graze goats there in the last 7 years, something like that.

    For some reason this culturally appropriate application of hundreds of years of the traditional local ways of doing things in that part of the world is condemned by bien pensants.

  4. Israel does what it feels is best for Israel, the so-called Palestinians and their fans can fuck off if they don’t like it.

  5. England has strong property laws because William the Norman wanted documentary proof that he owned England legally, so started the tradition, expectation, and requirement to write down proof of ownership. I seem to remember it’s one of the “50 things that make the modern economy” that was raised as an example of why/how England and the UK built the first proper international industrial economy. Firm, solid, legally-backed proof of ownerships.

  6. “Use it or lose it, essentially.” So if a Palestinian family has picked olives from its trees for decades it is secure in its ownership? But is it true? And if so would it still be true if a mystery man cut down the trees in the night? The striking thing with Israel/Palestine is that almost nothing I read about it is likely to be true, whichever side said it.

    “Palestine does what it feels is best for Palestine, the so-called Israelis and their fans can fuck off if they don’t like it.” Happy if the boot is on the other foot, Jussi? If you believe that might is right then logically you must be happy with whatever pleases the mightier.

  7. Who are these “Palestinians”? Jordanians? They’ve been given a chance to have their own land many times but no interest. No, fuck up a small tiny piece of land instead. Israelis are not going to go anywhere anytime soon, if ever. There is no fucking Palestine, no land borders I can see, but there is a lot of desert in Syria, Lebanon, Jordania, Egypt…none of these countries have had much sympathy for the “Palestinians”. Moroccai, Yemenite, Jews from all over over, Israel took them in and integrated quickly. Arab countries kept their people in the camps as a political weapon. These people are animals, vile towards their own refugees. Just my personal view mostly based on family history and my granddad’s opinions about WW2, him popping Russian war prisoners in the back of the head with a parabellum all day long having been forced to change his surname and religion.

    Dearieme, doesn’t matter much what you or I think, neither of us are going to change our world views. All I’m saying, the caravan moves and dogs bark.

  8. I seem to remember that, in Turkish law, if you can put up a house with a roof between dusk & dawn you have the right to occupy the land it stands on. Which would be complimentary to “Use it or lose it”

  9. Now that could dovetail into something we have down here in El Andalus where any goat track counts as a public highway*. Sort of like the UK footpath laws, but on steroids. So most anywhere is accessible to build your overnight house.

    *Occasionally discovered by Brits thinking, just because the access to their renovated cortijo is indistinguishable from the rest of the mountainside it’s OK to go roaring up & down it in a four wheel, pissed. When the Guardia nick em.

  10. dearieme ” an ancient Cambridge College which, there is evidence to believe, can’t demonstrate ownership of some of the land it’s owned for centuries. ”
    Even in English law a form of use it or lose it applies. If the “ancient Cambridge College” has been acting as the owner for centuries then that is of itself a valid demonstration of ownership. The point of ‘deeds’, at least until compulsory Land Registration was to show an unbroken chain of ownership going back far enough to surpass any possible competing claim.

  11. To intrude into the Jussi/dearieme argument:
    My Persian mate one gave me an insight into this. Feudal rights/responsibilities. Him knowing about this stuff, the family having been the local nobs before the Ayatollahs. Under Islamic law, they owned not only the land but the people on it. Thus had responsibility for the people on it. When the land in Palestine was sold, it should have been sold complete. ie with inhabitants. The two being inseparable. And the responsibility passed over to the new owners. But the land was sold under western law. Without. So displacing the inhabitants.
    In principal, the practise makes a lot of sense. Why it was in European feudal law. Because unless you can work the land, it provides no benefit. And if you have a system where all the people who work land are already owned by someone else, where would you get any? Land without people is essentially worthless..

  12. @Jussi November 2, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    +1 and why the Egypt/Gaza border is also closed – nobody in ME like Palestinians

    Palestinians – ME’s Pikeys

  13. @djc: in this particular case they were asked to demonstrate ownership when they wished to borrow against the value of the land. On receiving the request for evidence they backed out of the deal.

    Hence the deduction by representatives of other colleges involved in the proposed transaction that their chums lacked deeds.

  14. “Hence the deduction by representatives of other colleges involved in the proposed transaction that their chums lacked deeds.”

    True, but eminently fixable – England now has a land registry and it should be possible to put in a claim and get it registered. Not sure how the process works, but fairly certain it’s a thing.

  15. The lack of deeds would not be a impediment to registration assuming that there was evidence that the presumed owner had been openly acting as owner for a many years. I could imagine a possible problem if the land in question was not obviously private (open access land perhaps), If the process of registration required public notice then that might provoke counter claims. (Probably from the sort of people who insist on asserting public rights of way over the footpaths that go nowhere and havn’t been used for years)

  16. one of the arguments used in Canada by the First Nations is that there was no western system of land ownership, it was communal land if anything.
    So the original sale deeds settlers later produced should have no bearing as there’s no proof the person signing had the rights to sell or even understood the concept of what they were signing

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