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Phuket Law: Real Estate Rights in Thailand – Part I

Getting to grips with the different forms of property ownership and possession in Phuket, and elsewhere in Thailand, can be a daunting task. To make sure you are not led astray with some incomplete – or just plain wrong – explanations of what rights you have under the different forms of land titles, here are the basics in Part I of our column, “Real Estate Rights in Thailand”.

landproperty
By Jerrold Kippen

Sunday 4 February 2018, 10:00AM


Getting to grips with the most fundamental – and most important – definitions of property ownership is critical.

Getting to grips with the most fundamental – and most important – definitions of property ownership is critical.

The preferred real estate title deed in Thailand is ownership. The only true ownership title deed to land in Thailand is called a “Chanote” and is issued in accordance with the Land Code (1954). Condominium units also have “Condominium Ownership Title Deeds” which are issued in accordance with the Condominium Act (1979).

Ownership deeds issued under the provisions of these Acts are registered with the Land Department and state the ownership, boundaries, area measurements and encumbrances (such as mortgages or servitudes, if any) with particularity.

A purchaser of land or a condominium unit is registered as the owner of the land or condominium unit on the relevant title deed at the Land Department at the time of transfer.

There are also three basic types of possessory – in other words, not true ownership – right documents for land still in use in Thailand. They are the “NorSor 3 Gor”, the “NorSor 3”, and the “SorKor 1”.

Of the three, the NorSor 3 Gor is the preferred. This document contains an accurate location of the land and boundaries – but unlike in the case of land under Chanote title deed, no survey markers are placed by the Land Department – along with verification of the utilization of the land in the past.

A NorSor 3 is similar to the NorSor 3 Gor except that the measurements and boundaries of the NorSor 3 Gor are more accurate. Further, a NorSor 3 requires a 30-day public notice period before transfer to a new possessor whereas the transfer of a a NorSor 3 Gor can be registered immediately.

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The least preferable is the SorKor 1. This document is an unregistered form stating a claim by an occupant of land that the land belongs to him. The measurements are vague or missing and can be easily disputed. Encumbrances, such as a mortgage, can only be registered on Chanote, NorSor 3 Gor, or NorSor 3 title deeds. However, in some cases, it is possible to upgrade a SorKor 1 to a NorSor 3 Gor or a Chanote title.

Condos

As mentioned, condominium units also have ownership title deeds. This is in contrast to buildings with similar units that are not licensed under the Condominium Act (1979) and which are merely apartments that can only be rented or leased from the owner of the entire building.

The owner of a condominium unit, also owns a pro rata portion of the common area of the entire condominium project (based on the proportional area of their individual unit).

Unlike land, foreigners are allowed to own up to 49% of the floor space of a condominium project. However, the money to purchase a foreign-owned condominium unit must be brought into Thailand in foreign currency for that purpose or held in a “foreign currency account” in Thailand.


DUENSING KIPPEN is an international law firm specializing in business transaction and dispute resolution matters, with offices in Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand and affiliated offices in over 50 other countries. Visit them at: duensingkippen.com

 

 

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