Thailand Real Estate & Property: Thai Condos, Leases, Usufructs, And Mortgages

Benjamin W. Hart

This article briefly discusses issues pertaining to foreigners wishing to undertake the purchase of real property in the Kingdom of Thailand.

There are multiple methods by which a foreign national can secure property rights in Thai real estate. One popular method is through the purchase of freehold title to a Thai condominium. Unbeknownst to some, those who wish to purchase real estate in Thailand must overcome the de facto prohibition on foreign ownership of land in Thailand. Therefore, it may be difficult, if not impossible, for an alien national to gain freehold title to a piece of land in Thailand. The same cannot be said for Thai condos as, pursuant to the Thailand Condominium Act, it may be possible to purchase a freehold interest in a Thai condo (such an interest is commonly referred to as Chanote Title). That stated, those wishing to purchase a condo in Thailand are well advised to contact a law firm in Thailand to assist in the conveyancing as legal professionals can undertake due diligence and provide other services to facilitate the transaction.

A Thai lease may also provide significant benefits to a foreign national in Thailand, but there are restrictions placed upon such instruments which ought to be understood by those contemplating such a transaction. First, a Thai lease can only be recorded for a maximum duration of 30 years. Such a lease may be renewable, but the parties must undertake a subsequent registration. Meanwhile, unrecorded Thai lease will only be enforceable for a maximum duration of 3 years. Thai courts are unlikely to enforce the provisions of a lease if it runs past three years and is not recorded. Therefore, those leasing property in Thailand are prudent to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney in Thailand since many considerations must be made with respect to the registration of such an instrument.

Usufructs are an interesting instrument under the provisions of Thai law as they can allow virtually unfettered use of specified property for a lifetime if properly drafted. That stated, such instruments are not particularly common as Thai regulators are not keen to record such instruments except under relatively rare circumstances. Mortgages should not be overlooked by those wishing to secure property rights in Thailand as they may provide a backstop of investment protection for those who have financed another's purchase of Thai real estate.

It may be possible for a foreign national to be registered on a Thai Tabien Baan (House Registration Booklet). This document provides evidence of temporary residence in the Kingdom, but can be difficult to acquire depending upon circumstances. Those seeking a Thai Tabien Baan are well advised to contact a lawyer in Thailand to gain further insight into the process of obtaining such a document.

Benjamin W. Hart is a licensed American lawyer in Bangkok, Thailand. Contact: 1-877-231-7533, +66 (0)2-266-3698, info@integrity-legal.com. See further: Thailand property or Thailand Real Estate.