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Laws Deter Foreign Nationals From Buying Freehold Land in Thailand
29 Apr 2019

Property rights are subject to each country or state. This holds true for Thailand too as each year thousands of tourists flock to this island hoping to make some property investments. The growing tourism industry in this island also called “The Land Of Smiles” has encouraged people from all parts of the world to dream of owning a home or their condo depending on their idea of space and budget flexibility. 

Know About Property Rights and Rules In Thailand 

One can find the list of Phuket villas for sale on the websites of many real estate companies. However, before investing in villas in Phuket Thailand for sale, it is important to know the laws governing property and land ownership rights on the island. Property laws are well established in Thailand to ensure that foreigners do not own freehold properties or have their own buildings. However, if you are keen to spend your months there or looking to invest in property that serves as your residential accommodation, you may as well pay for a condominium or a spacious apartment. 

The stringent nature of property rules in Thailand has thwarted many foreign investors who may now only own a property in the island subject to the following conditions:

Foreign nationals may invest in only the registered condominiums;

Foreign nationals may buy any building that is distinct from the land on which it is constructed;

Foreign nationals interested in large spaces can take land or buildings on lease for 30 years that may again be renewed once the lease tenure is over. 

What Foreign Nationals Cannot Buy?

Money cannot buy you everything, especially, freehold land or property on the island. Also, businessmen looking to invest their money cannot hold a majority stake, i.e., buy more than 49 percent shares in any Thailand company that buys or sells freehold property.

The property enactments and laws have been designed to protect indigenous interests. This explains why the Condominium Act 1979 restricts foreigners to invest in only 49 percent of the total space in any condominium building registered under the local laws. It is important that the foreign buyers request for a letter of guarantee from the concerned condominium juristic person determining the extent of foreign ownership that must be submitted to the concerned land department for necessary ownership transfer.

How Can Foreign Nationals Buy Property In Thailand?

Foreigners can purchase land in two different ways including:

Prolonged Leaseholds: Properties secured on lease ensure a greater amount of security comparatively and are more straightforward. Foreign buyers feeling frustrated for not being able to buy freehold land or property on foreign soil can take possession of the property on lease for 30 years that can be renewed twice, thus, taking the total lease period to 90 years. Since the lease is registered under the laws of the island, the lessor cannot seek immediate possession of the land post the expiration of the lease agreement. 

Limited Liability: Those uncomfortable with the leasehold laws may consider setting up a Thai company that can purchase land on their behalf. Since foreign nationals are not allowed to hold more than 49 percent shares in a Thai company, the land will continue to be in the name of the company invested in.

Gathering interest of foreign nationals prompted the Thai authorities to come up with rules that not only protected the rights of its local citizens but also allowed foreign nationals to live in the island for prolonged periods. 

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