The rules regarding the ownership of land in Thailand are outlined in Land Code Act, and state that only Thai nationals can own land in the Kingdom and foreigners are NOT allowed to own land. The only way foreigners can own land is if a BOI company owns it. There are some grey areas concerning company ownership and purchasing land for investment purposes, although these are too complex to investigate fully in this article. A member of our team can explain these rules in more detail if necessary.
Inheritance of Land (by a foreign national)
A foreigner can inherit land as the statutory heir to an estate, usually when their spouse dies. However, they cannot register the land in their own name and must sell it within one year of its acquisition as per the rules outlined in Section 93 of the Land Code Act. Several possible complications surround this matter, so it may be advisable to investigate what provisions can be put in place to protect your home or investment.
Protecting Your Home or Investment
Many foreigners are naturally tentative about putting property in their spouse’s name and having no legal rights to the property should something go wrong. To protect their investment, some foreigners choose to own the house themselves and register it separately from the land with Land Office. While this may throw up several practicality issues, it can act as a deterrent to unscrupulous individuals. An alternative option would be to take out a 30-year lease on the land (and property), which would need to be a watertight contract and registered with the Land Office.
In both of these circumstances, diplomacy is definitely recommended as it needs the agreement of both parties, and the suggestion may be viewed as offensive!
Ownership of Condominium Units
Foreigners may own condominium units in their own name so long as Thai nationals own 51% of the livable area (not units) in the building. The fact that the foreigner effectively has the deeds to the property tends to provide reassurance and comfort that the property cannot be taken away from them. However, it should be stressed that not all condos have units left available in Foreign Quota as the existing owners are predominantly foreign nationals. It is the responsibility of the Juristic Office and the buyer to check that they are not breaching regulations.
What Other Options are Available?
Of course, there are ways that properties can be purchased by a foreigner and effectively placed in their own name, but once again, this is something of a grey area but can be discussed with a member of our team should the need arise.
Changes to the Rules
Over the last few months, there has been plenty of speculation regarding relaxing the rules regarding land ownership to stimulate the economy post-pandemic. However, there is nothing concrete, and rum ours like this have frequently been heard before with no changes. At this stage, we would advise against waiting for a change in the rules.