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Foreign Ownership Rule for Land and Property in Thailand

Dec 23, 2007
Purchasing a land or property in Thailand is regarded as a great option for investment as well as for residence and retirement purposes. Due to its infancy and strong potential for a profitable future, Thai land and property is becoming popular and attract all categories of property buyers.

Further, since the tourism sector in the country has grown from an established position into an even more productive economy, Thailand, acknowledged as 'the Spain of the East' provides superb opportunities for property investment. Above all, Thailand boasts of some excellent land or property development and that too for astonishingly cheap prices.

No wonder why many expats including Americans and Europeans invest in Thai property such as villas, condos, and other housing options. But, investing in a Thai property is based on your requirements, location ie whether near supermarket or beach, and lifestyle, ie, whether you prefer a Thai or a mixed neighborhood.

For retired foreigners seeking tranquility and solace, a best option would be to invest in property located in destinations like Koh Samui, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. If you want to have an easy accessibility to almost all facilities, then it would be better to invest in cities including Bangkok, al though prices would be exceptionally high compared to other parts of the country.

However, certain restrictions have been imposed on foreign investors in order to own a land or property in the country. In other words, the property law in Thailand does not allow foreigners or non Thais to have a freehold land in the country. But, there are certain exceptions in the law with regard to this issue. Al though a foreigner cannot purchase land or property in his own name, he has been given some alternatives to acquire a property in Thailand according to the Section 86 of the Thai Land Law, which are as follows:

Buying a property through Thai spouse - Thai property law allows a foreigner with a Thai spouse to invest in a property or land in the country. But, the land or property must be registered under the name of the Thai. It is also important for the foreigner to specify that the funds used for the purchase of a property are of a Thai spouse. However, this option may sometimes become a problem in a divorce case, since a foreigner may find difficult to prove that it was a marital property.

Buying a property in the name of a Thai company - As per the property law, a non Thai can own a property in Thailand through a Thai company, provided 51% of the company's share is Thai and 49% is foreign.

Buying a property through Investment (BOI) - A foreigner can acquire a limited amount of land or property with considerable investment of fund. Under the Thai Property Law, a non Thai citizen investing 40 million baht for not less than five years can purchase up to 1500 square meters of land and that too for only residential property. But, a prior permission should be obtained from the Ministry of Interiors. Likewise, this option cannot be availed by foreigners who are looking to invest in his second house or retirement homes.

Structure Ownership - In this case, a foreigner may be granted a Right of Superficies by a Thai spouse or a Thai company. This in turn provides foreigners to have rights over all kinds of constructions on the land. The Right of Superficies usually last for a period of ten years with options to renew it again for 30 years, if required.

Leasing - This is perhaps the least complicated option for a foreigner to acquire a property or land in Thailand. Mostly, the land is leased to a non Thai for a period of 30 years, which can be again renewed for a period of 30 years. Leasing a land in Thailand is quite simple and does not require much maintenance.

Despite these options, it is important to make a thorough analysis of title deeds prior to investing in Thai property. Title deeds usually include three main types such as Chanot (Nor Sor 4), the Nor Sor 3 Gor, and the Nor Sor 3.

But, there is not any restriction for a foreigner to own or purchase a condominium in the country except for that he should bring in the whole money for buying a condominium in foreign currencies. Further, a foreigner could own only up to 49% of units of a condominium block.

With a myriad of real estate agents and property builders in the scenario, it is not at all a chaotic process to own a land or property in Thailand. Majority of them provide assistance to deal with complicated Thai law for acquiring a property in the country. Some of them even provide legal advice and conduct investigation and consultation in order to acquire a property. There are also firms providing management, project planning, and development in connection with a property.
About the Author
Wantanee K. is an independent author evaluating and commenting on leading International Property Consultants in Thailand, especially CB Richard Ellis.
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