Buying Property in Thailand
Owning a property in Thailand is one of the best decisions an Australian citizen can have, the one which can also bring him a lot of things to ponder considering that Thai laws prevents him from owning certain properties outright. It may also be very confusing for the Australian citizen since information provided on the web says there are also a number of way for him in to secure a property without even circumventing any Thai laws.
And so, before deciding on what course of action he would take, it is very important for him to understand the basics about the relationship between him as a foreign buyer and the property that he is eyeing. He has to know which course of action is allowable for foreigners like him and which are not.
Nevertheless, apart from understanding the rest of the article, it is imperative and highly advisable for the Australian citizen to approach and seek the legal wisdom of a reputable property lawyer in Thailand.
The Australian citizen may have found out that “foreigners are prohibited from owning land on freehold in Thailand.” While this is true, foreigners can still own outright a condominium albeit still subject to the applicable laws. Furthermore, the Australian citizen may still be able to acquire a property without even owning it outright through various legal means.
- Buy a Condominium - he is allowed to purchase a condominium in Thailand and register his ownership of the said unit on freehold. This is perfectly fine but first, he must make sure that the total foreign ownership of the whole development on which the unit belongs to that he wants to buy has not surpassed 49% yet otherwise he would have to look elsewhere.
- Property Lease - he can also opt to legally take hold of a property, including a plot of land, through a long term lease. The maximum period that he is allowed to lease a property is 30 years on which he and the lessor may negotiate and agree for an option of a renewal after the initial term. However, the Australian citizen must also be aware that even if there has been a prior agreement for renewal after 30 years, that renewal is really not automatic. What he and the lessor can do is re-negotiate and agree again and then register their agreement at the Land Office.
- Usufruct - the Australian citizen may also negotiate to obtain usufruct over a plot. What usually happens in a usufruct is that the usufructuary (the Australian citizen) would be handed the rights to use the land and gain the fruits through the utilization of such land. This structure share some similarities with a lease and superficies but they do differ on some points including the non-transferability of the agreement to an heir.
- Superficies - this is a good option for the Australian citizen as he is allowed to build structures on top of the land of which he has been granted with superficies by the owner. The Australian would just have to pay the owner akin to that of a lease. Also, under this option, the ownership of the land remains with the one who granted him with the right of superficies and the ownership of the structure to be built on top of it would be with him.
- Thai Company - another option is starting a business in Thailand but this company should be majority Thai-owned. If it is qualified and approved, the property would then be owned by the company and not the Australian shareholder of the company.
- Through Thai Spouse - if the Australian national has a Thai spouse, the spouse can own a plot of land with minimal problems only that the Thai spouse must purchase the property using her own funds and not that of her Australian spouse. They must also execute a joint statement stating that the funds used in the purchase came from the personal funds of the Thai spouse. Therefore, the Thai spouse must also be able to prove that she has the capacity to make such purchase.
The Australian citizen can choose one of these options but he has to bear in mind that whatever venue he would eventually choose, he must be not tempted to do anything that would make him circumvent or bypass the applicable Thai laws. He must make sure that whatever decision he would make, this should be within the bounds of the law.
If he wants to have detached property then perhaps he can ask and obtain a right of superficies from the owner and built a structure to be called home on top of it. If living in a building with the wall as the only division between his unit and that of a neighbor is alright with him then a condominium is a good choice.
Whatever the choice he would have, the Australian must not forget to consult with a property lawyer first before signing any agreement or paying anyone. This is to ensure that all the necessary steps that he is employing do not violate any provisions of the law and that all his rights and interests are protected.