Are you a foreigner who wants to buy a property in Thailand?
While Thailand is known to be openly encouraging and inviting foreign nationals to consider retirement in their country, their restrictive land laws seem to be discouraging legitimate and qualified retirees from other countries from taking the offer.
Pursuant to Thai Land laws, foreigners are not allowed to purchase and own land properties under their name in the Kingdom. According to the same law, however, ownership of a land plot and ownership of a house situated on such land plot can be separated under specific conditions. This provision enables foreigners to have ownership on the house on a piece or parcel of land which they lease.
Under such condition, for house ownership to be transferred separately from the land ownership, a 30-day public notice is required before the transfer of house ownership can be registered. The purpose of this public notification is to allow filing of objections against the house ownership transfer from legitimate parties or possible claimants, if there are any. But if the land and house are jointly sold and not separated, no public notice is required.
Lands have title deeds. Buildings don’t have title deeds. This difference is the reason why there is no clear documentation of evidence of ownership. In a general sense, it is usually assumed that the landowner is the same personality as the owner of the house or building standing on the land. But this general assumption may be disproved by:
An official house sale and purchase agreement
The Thai Civil and Commercial Code (CCC) establishes a clear procedure of separating the ownership of the land and house through registration of a “superficies” pursuant to Section 1410-1416 CCC. This “superficies” creates the right to own a house on a piece of land that one does not own. The superficies is registered on the title deed, which serves as evidence of the ownership of the respective house and provides notice to third parties.
Another way to establish house ownership, according to the rulings of some Thai courts and administrative practice is through Section 146 (sentence 2) of the CCC which distinguishes and separates the land from a house built thereon where the house is built in the exercise of a right over the land owner’s land and without superficies. Leasehold is considered by Thai courts to be a “right to another person’s land” and current administrative practice in Thailand takes the same position.
Currently, the administrative practice may also require additional documentation that may be considered evidence of house ownership.
Where a building is purchased from a property developer, the developer will usually apply for the building permit as it comes together with an interest in the land. The documentation of the house purchase (the official House Sale Agreement) will be relevant. The official agreements are issued by the land office. They are also part of the file kept by the land office. Hence, ownership of the house in the name of the owner from the second owner is officially registered at the relevant land office where a duplicate copy of the latest agreement is given to a new owner of the house.
The official House Sale and Purchase Agreement is a stronger evidence to prove house ownership and is not easy to challenge.
A construction agreement related to the house together with any of the above documents may also be presented as indicia for house ownership.
“Tabien Baan”, Blue Book or House Registration Book – this does not constitute in any way as evidence for house ownership. All this document does is to state the address of the house and identify the persons who live in it. In most cases, it will refer to the owner although it may not always be the case. However, the house registration book is still an important document as it serves as certificate of residence.
The Blue Book house registration book is issued to Thai nationals or foreigners with permanent residence status, while the Yellow Book is issued to foreign nationals. These books are issued only to individuals and not companies.