Through the years, Thailand has become a haven for tourists, investors and retirees from virtually all corners of the world. Many of them are looking for properties to acquire and call them their own. But because of the rather complicated Thai Property Law, these foreigners are having a hard time acquiring the property they wished for.
Ordinarily, a foreigner cannot own land in Thailand unless they either use a Thai company or have the property named after their Thai-national spouse. Either way, both are very complicated as they require a lot of jumping through hoops and documentations that a foreigner may find very hard to obtain from and provide in order to satisfy Thai regulation. Among the easier ways to obtain ownership in the Kingdom is buying a condominium where a foreigner can have a unit in a freehold status provided that the condominium building he plans to purchase a unit from still conforms to the 49% limit for foreigners.
What is Leasehold?
The good news is that another easy property ownership option in the country is the Leasehold. This option allows a foreign individual to acquire the land and register this right at the Land Department for a period of up to 30 years. However, this can be renewed for another 30 years if a clause for this option is stipulated in the signed and registered lease agreement.
In Thailand, lease agreements of more than three years should be registered with the Land Department for approval and the registration of which involves the payment of certain taxes by the lessee. In addition, only a land with a Chanote or Nor Sor Sam title deed shall be accepted by the Land Department for registration. When the lease agreement is drafted with a superficies contract, the foreigner-lessee can build a structure on the leased land and have the building registered under his name.
It is also advisable that the lessee will list their children as co-lessee in the lease agreement so that in case of untimely demise of the main lessee, the children can still continue using the property as heirs. Yet, the children, now as the lessees of the aforementioned property should renew the registration of the lease agreement at the Land Department when the agreed period (for example, 30 years) is already consumed and if they wish to continue using the property.
What are the Basic Items a Good Lease Agreement may contain?
Before agreeing to and signing a Lease Agreement, foreigners must be very careful in the contents and/or clauses found in the contract. They must examine them carefully so as to protect their interests and investment. Therefore, it is highly advisable for the foreigner to consult property management, real estate and law firms as they do reviews on the contracts extensively and give the foreigners their legal and expert opinions with regards to safeguarding the interests of the lessee and other circumstances surrounding the lease agreement.
The lease agreement must also contain the following but not limited to:
Lease period of validity;
In case of having children upon signing of the agreement, listing these children as co-lessee;
Conditions that can cause for termination of the lease;
Should there be an alteration of sort on the agreement, it should be done with mutual consent from both parties, the lessee and the lessor;
Compensation rights for the lessee if the lessor cannot fully implement his obligations under the terms and conditions;
A clause for the lessee to have the first option in purchasing the land at freehold basis when the lessor wishes to sell it after an event the Thai government has promulgated a new law that will allow foreigners to own a land in the future;
That the lessee owns any constructed buildings in case of termination of the contract before the agreed period of validity.
Siam Legal is a foremost leader in real estate and legal services in Thailand. If you wish to become a lessee of a property in Thailand, whether you are a Thai national or a foreigner, we will be happy to hear you with your concerns and queries, give you advice on the contents of the lease agreement you are about to sign and or provide you with a draft lease agreement contract wherein your best interest is protected and safeguarded by the applicable Thai laws.