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Land & Property Law in Thailand

Mar 20, 2008
Thailand is an incredible country much famed for its serenity and rich culture. In fact, the country is much popular among the tourists, and is now the number one tourist spot in South-East Asia. With its mind blowing scenery, stupendous beaches, idyllic tropical islands, and a myriad of attractions covering palaces, ancient shrines, interesting museums, historic monuments, and places of cultural significance, Thailand has been drawing holidaymakers from across the world per year.

Of which many of the people, especially Europeans and Americans, settle down here permanently, inspired by the incredibility of the place. Some westerns have even chosen certain destinations in Thailand such as Koh Samui, Pattaya, and Phuket, to spend their retirement life.

Factors such as exceptional low prices and excellent investment potential have also lured large number of people to invest in the country's property market. All these have led to increased demand for property in Thailand. Property market in Thailand is highly active, with a number of options, ranging from land and houses to condominiums, villas, and serviced apartments. Discussed further in this article are laws as well as procedures involved in connection with owning a property in Thailand.

The laws with regard to owning a property in the country is quite confusing. A foreigner cannot easily own a property in Thailand. In other words, Thai law strictly prohibits a foreigner to own a freehold land in the country. However, there are certain loopholes in the law regarding this issue. A foreigner can own a land or property in the country through a number of ways such as land leases, company ownership, investments, and above all, through Thai spouse.

Land Leases - Although Thai law prohibits land ownership rights to people, foreigners are allowed to hold 100% interest in a land lease in the country. In other words, land lease is one of the simplest as well as straightforward options for a foreigner to acquire a property in Thailand. According to the Thai lease law, a maximum of 30-year lease year is provided, and that too with the option to renew the lease for an additional period of 30 years.

Additionally, lands for commercial as well as industrial purposes could be leased up to a period of 50 years, with options for further extension of lease. All kinds of land lease must be registered with the Land Development. However, it is not required to register leases up to three years. It has been made mandatory to register any kind of lease renewal that has been agreed upon with the land owners at the local land office.

Company Ownership - Registered companies in Thailand with majority Thai ownership could buy land in Thailand. In general, only Thai majority companies are allowed to own land in the country. However, in certain instances, the Board of Investment (BOI) allows a foreign registered company registered in the country to own a land for a short period of time.

Thai Spouse - A Thai wife of a foreigner is allowed to own a land or property in the country in her own name. This option is a very good way to own to a property in Thailand if there is not any marital problem between the couples.

However, it has been made mandatory for the couples to sign declarations with the Land Department. This in turn is to specify that the funds used are the property of the Thai spouse. But, it may sometimes become a problem in case of divorce. In such a situation, an expertly prepared prenuptial agreement may prove helpful for the non-Thai spouse.

Investment - As per the Thai property law, a foreigner is allowed to purchase a limited amount of land, on the basis of investment of about 40 million bahts for five consecutive years, provided if the land is for residential purpose.

Despite any other aforesaid options, one of the best ways to purchase a property in Thailand is via the purchase of a condominium unit. The Thai government does not impose any kind of restrictions on foreigners to own a condo unit in Pattaya, except for some requirements to be met under the Condominium Act (1979), such as bringing in 100% of funds for the purchase of condo unit in foreign currency and recording of it by a Thai bank on a Foreign Exchange Transaction Form (FETF), which in turn is considered an evidence to submit it to the Land Department.

A number of firms are now in the scenario to help you deal with the legal procedures in connection with the owning of a land or property in the country. They undertake a plethora of services such as purchase as well as sale agreement, asset purchase transactions, transfer and lien registrations, title searches, and industrial estates.
About the Author
For nearly 30 years, Bamrung Suvicha Apisakdi Law Associates (BSA Law) has focused on providing reliable legal advice and services to the Thai and foreign business community in Thailand. We provide international standards of legal services while retaining the customs of the Thai business culture.
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