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A sure thing in the LOS – land ownership – NOT!

Why in the world would a foreigner want to buy land in Thailand? After all, Thailand generally prohibits land ownership for foreigners or foreign owned companies. Normally the answer is quite simple, they like living in Thailand and want a place to live. Renting can get old after a while. Not only is it expensive (renting), but it also restrictive, you can’t really fix it up the way you want without wasting a lot of money. So, finally it comes time to buy a house (or build) in the land of smiles.

The easiest solution to overcome the land ownership issue is to simply put the land in your Thai partner’s name. Although I would never tout a one size fits all solution, and this may be a fine solution for some people, I would generally recommend against it. Ask yourself this question: If I was living with my partner, the love of my life, in my own country, would I buy her the house that we are going to live in a put it entirely in her name? Normally it isn’t done that way, since we all know anything can go wrong even in the best relationship. Besides, it just doesn’t make any sense. In your own country you would put the property in both names. We just don’t need to hear anymore stories of falangs building their dream houses only to later be evicted like common trespassers. My lawyer said 8 out of 10 new clients a month were coming in to resolve problem like this, sadly, most of the time after it was already too late.

The construction industry is geared towards getting the ball rolling. Unless you the buyer make a stink, you will end up going down that potentially painful wrong road. Take a minute. Stop everything for a few weeks. Consult an attorney. Think about if you want to do a company (with preference shares) or buy the land in your partners name with you having a 30 year lease. They will both work, the lease option is a little cheaper and easier to maintain, with this caveat — if you do have a falling out and decide to sell out completely later, you may have problems. But in any event – you won’t be evicted from your own house.

So how safe is a Thai company anyway. Well, if it is properly set up I would say pretty safe. However, nothing is 100% here. I mean one day you could be living your dream life in the LOS and the next day you could be deported permanently blacklisted from ever entering the kingdom again. It really happened to a friend of mine, a good guy I might add. Permanently blacklisted. It was one of those stories I heard as it developed. He was just a low level grunt trying to pick up a few bucks doing phone sales. It did sound kind of ‘scamish’ to me, but when you take this type of job nobody tells you it’s a scam. His only mistake was being a bit gullible.

This isn’t the only case of anyone ever getting blacklisted. It happens. It may be fair or not. It is life in Thailand. You may be driving down the road on your moto and suddenly fall into a drainage hole because someone’s stolen the metal grate to go sell it for scrap metal.

The point is this: if you buy property and do it in a well thought out way it is probably has safe as anything is here. Cases of foreigners having a problem with land ownership when it has been set up correctly are very rare. Anything can happen, but probably if something is going to go wrong it will be something other than this.

more legal info here

2 Comments

  1. IMHO The short answer is, dont even think about trying to buy land here, cos YOU CAN’T. Its as simple as that

    The companies route is not legally sound and can be challenged at any time by the land registry (especially if some jealous neighbour wants your land)

    Leasing is the only legal option and you can legally own a 30 year lease, which can be renewed twice more giving 90 years. Of course nothing is perfect and , if in the future some dark influence wants your land then negotiate quickly and publicly for the market price and get out, enough said.

    Some time ago I looked at the American style of home, built as a factory prefab and assembled on site. If you want to move, fold it up, put it on the back of a lorry and go some place else. These prefab homes, btw, are very well appointed and look great (nothing like trailer park trash). I worked in Texas for a while and the funniest sight is to see a complet half house hurtling down the freeway at 50mph.

    So why get yourself grief, why think like a european with a fixation on land ownership. Renting is very cheap and if you grow tired of the vicinity you can upstakes and move

    rgds

    Robin

  2. Editor – Some fine points, but let’s remember a few things. First off all, in some areas and circumstances the property is not ‘deeded’ (no chanote). In these situations the lease is the best way to go.

    As for dealing with deeded properties — I would like to know of some cases where the land office has invalidated ownership based on the fact that the company sole purpose was to hold land. For the most part, big money properties, say 15+ m baht, are normally done via the company method and it is the defacto method of ownership around Pattaya at least. If you look at how the people with money do it, it is normally the company route. Although anything could happen, as a practical matter the chances of the land office invalidating a companies claim (based solely on the argument that the companies sole purpose is simply to hold land) to land is between zip and zilch. Any examples… please provide.

    Then, if we did take this hypothetical case of land proxy being able to be invalidated based on being on a proxy for land use… think about this. How would it work? There is no restriction on doing a company out of your house (different from overseas). Why couldn’t a company as its first order of business get its premises in order? Then in the future start up business operations?

    Another case could be a group of persons wanting to invest in land. As long a farlang ownership is below the specified threshold I cannot see how it could be voided.

    Very, very difficult case to make that a company cannot be used as a proxy for land ownership here since among other things it is so commonly used and highly recommended by quality lawyers here.

    That being said, the lease method of holding land, although a little bit more restrictive, is definitely a fine option. It is cheaper and easier to maintain. I personally like the company route since I have a trading company already and it is the most flexible in my circumstance. This is a decision that everyone should weigh carefully.

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