Possession of land in Thailand
Foreigners are not permitted to own land in Thailand. To Westerners this can appear somewhat peculiar, particularly as someone from Thailand would be permitted to own land in most countries in the West.
It is, however, possible to obtain a “long term lease” for land in Thailand, allowing complete use off and rights to that land.
What is the reason for this?
The name Thailand means “land of the free”. An apt name indeed for a country that has always been free; Thailand is almost the only country in South East Asia to have never been a colony. There have been wars with neighbouring countries, mostly with Burma, whereby certain areas of Thailand were indeed occupied by the Burmese. Also, during the Second World War, there was a temporary period of occupation by the Japanese. The occupation of Thailand, however, has never been the same as neighbouring countries have experienced, having been dominated by countries such as France, The Netherlands, England and Portugal.
Leasing of land and/or a house for living in
First of all, the land document, the so-called “Janot” should be checked at the land registry office. This can be done by making a copy of the original document, so that the registration data can be checked to see what the most up-to-date status is for the plot of land concerned.
In some cases it is advisable to have the land registry office carry out a survey, to check if the land boundary points on the land registry document are still located at the same place on the site, and if the boundary and the plot size are in accordance with the drawing on the “Janot”.
Afterwards, a lease agreement between the parties is drawn up and after having been signed by both parties, the agreement, the land document and the personal identification documents are brought to the land registry office for registration. There the documents are stamped and signed, after which the land in question can no longer be sold or transferred, unless the lease has been terminated or permission has been given by the leaser.
We strongly advise you to seek the assistance of a recognised estate agent or reputable lawyer for this procedure, one who is able to legalise the lease agreement, together with the land registry document. This is particularly important due to the fact that these documents are drawn up in the Thai language. Your own name will be stated in phonetic Thai on both the lease registration form and the land registry document.
The maximum term for leasing land and/or a house is a period of 30 years.
Once the first lease document has been correctly drawn up, your partner or the legal owner can sign another lease agreement, dated on the same day as your first lease term would end, and once again this lease is valid for a further period of 30 years.
The supporting argument is that should your partner die, the remaining partner cannot be put out of the property. All that remains to be done once the first lease period has passed, is to ask a recognised estate agent or a reputable lawyer to take the documents to the land registry office to have them registered.
In this way, one has the possibility of a life-long lease period of 60 years. A lawyer can also include heirs in the lease. If you have a Thai partner, it is possible to arrange that the land (with the property) can be made out in the name of the children, as a gift. It is also possible to arrange, by means of a testament, that the property goes to the children after your death, and also that a person of your choice can be stipulated to take over the lease.
Such a testament should be registered at the land registry office and receive an official stamp.
The lease can also be sold to others. It is advisable to make sure your partner or legal owner always signs the required documents for the lease, at each new lease period. Later on, if you decide to sell, this can be done without involving other parties.
What else do you have to pay attention to when leasing?
Transactions involving land and other real estate are bound by laws and regulations. Fulfilling these laws is only possible when sanctions are implemented when laws have been broken. Thailand is a country which is selective in its manner of implementing the law. Foreigners are permitted to buy houses and other buildings, it is possible to lease land or even own it if you have your own company in Thailand.
Always make use of the services of a recognised estate agent or a reputable lawyer before starting negotiations. Often documents contain mistakes, some are even fake; by the purchase of a house it often happens that one receives land registry documents for a completely different plot of land, or for appropriation of land.