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Land Title Due Diligence in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

This video is simply designed to provide a brief overview of matters pertaining to due diligence in the real estate and property sector here in Thailand.

Basically those seeking to buy land, and in the case of foreigners that’s a rather difficult thing to do as you can see from other videos on our site here with respect to real estate and property but let’s say those wishing to lease land, or buy a condominium or perhaps buy what’s called an off plan condominium, which is a condo that has yet to be built but is based on a plan to be built. Title due diligence, title to the land, things like this are rather necessary when undertaking such an endeavor. I would argue it’s a necessity. If you are going to be putting money into buying property in Thailand, you probably want to ascertain whether or not the individual who is claiming to be able to sell that property actually owns in, so that’s where the due diligence comes in. Basically, the individual, the counter party who is going to be trying to sell that land needs to go ahead and produce their chanote, their title deed, also called a chanote here in Thailand, which allows for freehold ownership by the other counterparty and basically our Thai attorneys here would basically go ahead and find the local land department that would be in charge of that land and ascertain whether or not, in fact, the individual in question does own that land and thereafter have confirmation of that, you  can go ahead and be able to, with a degree of certainty, go to that same land office presumably and go ahead and make a transfer of property title. The interesting thing about Thailand, just sort of an overview, there was an article in the Bangkok Post and I delve a little deeper into it myself. Thailand does have a very different ownership and conveyancing system from virtually any place else in the world. Local offices, local land departments basically oversee the transfer and maintenance of property within their jurisdiction so each land office has its own jurisdiction. It should be noted that these land offices don’t really maintain the land records in digital format so it’s not a computerized data base particularly although there are aspects of it that are computerized, but most of the records on these matters are based on paper.

Moreover, it’s not a public data base. An attorney looking into these matters is basically only doing so after having ascertained the property in question’s pedigree from the counter party so it’s a very different thing from say the United States or other countries in the West or the Commonwealth world where it’s almost a sort of open data base as to who owns what, where. The registrar of deeds in various jurisdictions in the United States is going to have that information pretty readily on file. There are certain limited circumstances or certain types of information that is not going to be available to the public but for the most part, such matters are fairly public record. Here in Thailand, that is not really the case and then on top of that, there is an opacity which is created as a result of the fact that the Thai system doesn’t really utilize a computer system for maintaining records on these matters. So for that reason, those really thinking of buying land, again land not so much, pursuant to the Laws of the Kingdom of Thailand, a foreigner can’t own land without having the transaction signed off by the Minister of Interior which is a virtually non existent proposition. It doesn’t happen very often; it can happen in limited circumstances, very, very rare. There are certain BOI, Board of Investment, there are certain exceptions for BOI that allow for certain land ownership but only in the context of like industrial estates and things like that but with respect to the Thai Condominium Act, yes, it is possible to own Thai property in the form of a condominium here in Thailand. It should simply be noted that when undertaking, especially with off plan condominiums, and there is another video on this channel with respect to off plan condominiums specifically, but when undertaking any purchase of property, it’s just a good idea to undertake due diligence and ascertain whether the counter party is giving, providing transparency and telling the truth with respect to their ownership interests in the property in question. It has been my experience here in the past that sometimes the counter party doesn’t even know exactly what their ownership interest is. There are various forms of property titles here in Thailand, not just the Chanote which is sort of the top of the line property title, providing free hold title, there’s various sort of sub categories underneath that type that don’t provide the same sort of property rights and in many cases sometimes it is just a sort of right of abode or a right that can be sort of upgraded into a more long lasting or transferable type of title. Again, that’s going to be very dependent on the circumstances on a given case but for lack of a better, for a lack of anything further to say on the subject, the best thing to say on the subject is “Yes, you need to hire a Thai attorney”.  We have Thai attorneys on staff who can handle these matters and you need to ascertain what exactly it is that you are bargaining for before finalizing anything or making any irrevocable financial decisions.