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Can a Foreigner Own a House in Thailand?

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today, we are going to be discussing specifically, and I want to be clear about this, specifically, Can a Foreigner Own a House in Thailand? And by specifically, what I mean is when that is said often times, I think people are going to go ahead and think, “Oh, I can own the house and the land around it”. Well, let me be clear. We are talking about the structure of a home, or I guess it could be any structure frankly, on land in Thailand. Let’s be clear. It is very difficult for a foreigner, a foreign national to own real property aka land, in Thailand. In another video, we go into the restrictions of that. Just to briefly recap that video though, in Thailand, it is virtually impossible for a foreign national to own land in Thailand. There are certain exemptions under the Board of Investment scheme; there is also a general exemption whereby a foreigner may be able to own certain small pieces of land so long as it is signed off by the Minister of the Interior here in the Kingdom. Very, very rare that that is going to happen.

BOI is, it is not rare exactly for BOI, for land ownership to be able to be conferred pursuant to BOI, but that being said, again, it only happens in a fairly narrow context. So moving forward for purposes of the rest of this video, let’s just go ahead and assume foreigners can’t own land, aka real property, real estate, immovable property in terms of land in Thailand. However, it may be possible to bifurcate the title to a structure on property from the underlying land and there may be a scheme, I guess there may be a legal structure which could be set up whereby effectively a foreigner can have relatively full ownership of a homestead in Thailand with respect to owning the structure as well as having like a long term lease registered on the underlying real estate, having a long term mortgage registered on the underlying real estate or having something that can do a  usufruct or superficies on the underlying real estate whereby the foreigner could effectively enjoy virtually unfettered, not only access but I guess benefit, of the land itself. Again, there are many restrictions associated with even leases, mortgages and usufructs but that being said, they do provide a level of protection and enjoyment that is over and above mere renting, especially on a month to month or year to year basis.  So the thing to take away from this video, is “Yes, it may be possible for a foreign national to own the actual structure of their house” in Thailand, but only that. The land itself is basically off limits, notwithstanding the fact that it may be possible to go ahead and put certain legal protections or legal instruments in place whereby one could enjoy that land.

That being said, things like a usufruct, or much akin to what’s called a Life Estate in the United States, long term leases, at least of the time of this video, can only be registered in 30 year periods although it has been seriously discussed, as is gone into on another video on this channel, 50 year or even 99 year leases have been seriously discussed by various authorities in Thailand recently. And then also, where one may be perhaps in a relationship with  the owner of the land and one may have put money into the purchase of the land, perhaps a mortgage may be registered  on that real property in order to secure certain rights with respect to that foreigner’s, not ownership rights, but financial rights in the underlying real estate, notwithstanding the fact that okay the home or the structure, it’s title is bifurcated off and is owned directly by the foreigner, notwithstanding who is on the “title deed” or ”Chanote” which is the Thai word for title deed (freehold title) here in the Kingdom. Regardless of whose name may be on that Chanote, it may be possible for a foreigner to actually own the structure which happens to sit on that land.