Property Laws and Frequently Asked Questions

Buying a Property in Pattaya?

Listed below are the most commonly asked questions and answers to help you.

If you cannot find the answers to your questions, please feel free to contact us for an obligation free consultation and we will do our best to help you.

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Frequent Questions FAQ

Buying a condominium is perhaps the simplest and easiest option available to foreigners. Purchases of condominiums by foreign individuals come under the jurisdiction of the Condominium Act B.E. 2535 (1992).

Condominiums can be owned by foreigners in their own names provided that the total number of foreign-held units does not exceed 49% of the total number of units in the condominium block.

The funds to purchase the condominium should be remitted from abroad in foreign currency to a bank in Thailand, (in the name that is to be registered on the title deed), with the remark 'to purchase a condominium’, and the relevant form (Thor Tor Sam) can then be obtained from the said named bank.

The owner of each condominium is issued with a certificate of unit ownership. The certificate also has a statement saying exactly what percentage of rights over the common areas of the building each owner has.

Ownership of land is governed by the Land Code BE 2497 (1954), the Civil and Commercial Code, Land Reform for Agriculture Act BE 2518 (1975) and the regulations set forth by the Ministry of the Interior.

Although you are able to own a house or structure in your own name, Thai law currently prohibits foreigners from owning the land the building is erected on.

However there are a number of ways in which you can structure the purchase to own and invest in land:

  • Become a Thai resident or citizen
  • Be the principal investor in a new export-orientated Board of Investment (BOI) approved company [the current maximum size limit of freehold ownership rights is one Rai of land (1600 Sqm.)]
  • Make an approved investment of over 40 Million Baht left for a minimum number of years [the current maximum size limit of freehold ownership rights is one Rai of land (1600 Sqm.)]
  • Invest in a Thai private limited company. This involves the incorporation of a private limited company of which the foreigner holds 49% of the shares. The remaining 51% of the shares is held by Thai Nationals
  • 30-year lease with options, acquire the leasehold interest in land in the name of the foreigner. This can be done via a registered 30-year lease (residential) to the foreigner in the foreigner’s own name with pre-paid options to contractually renew for a further two periods of 30 years each. The foreigner may also be given the option to purchase the land should the law in respect of foreigner’s land ownership rights change. Under Thai law, the foreigner can own the structure (for example a house) erected on the land. In order to be enforceable, any lease for a period of longer than three years must be registered, which involves payment of a registration fee and stamp duty based on a percentage of the rental fee for the whole lease term. The original registered lease remains in force and effect even if the property is sold.

In practice, the method most commonly used by foreigners is to invest in a Thai private limited company which owns or intends to acquire freehold land. The Articles of Association can be varied to allow greater protection for foreign minority shareholders where majority Thai ownership is required under the Alien Business Law.

Thai law requires that 51% of the shares be held by Thai juristic persons, however, any company with more than 40% foreign interest that purchases land may be investigated by the Central Land Office in Bangkok (under Section 74 of the Land Code) to ensure that the company has not been organized in an attempt to circumvent the prohibition against foreign ownership of land. This results in the foreign ownership of the company being limited at 39%, but with the recommended changes to the Articles of Association, the foreigner can be the only director of the company, and the only officer of the company who can commit or bind the company in any contractual dealings - effectively giving the minority shareholder control over the company. The company is required to submit an annual balance sheet once per year, and there will be a tax obligation, however the costs are minimal and your lawyer will have an accounting department able to assist you with the above.

A Foreign Exchange Confirmation Letter (Ex: Thor Tor Sam TT3 or Foreign Exchange Transaction form FET) is an official bank document issued by the receiving bank upon the receipt of foreign currency into your bank account in Thailand. You must request a Foreign Exchange Confirmation Letter from your bank when you are remitting funds to Thailand for the purpose of purchasing a condominium. The letter must specify the name of the sender, foreign currency amount, exchange rate and Thai  Baht amount, property address and that the remittance is for the purpose of purchasing a property.  Code 5.22.

Yes it is called Chanote, "Nor Sor 4 Jot" and is the only document which can be described a land title deed, because it alone confirms ownership of land. The land is accurately surveyed and its area and boundaries are set using GPS. There is no need to publicize any legal acts, and it is possible to partition (divide) the land into smaller plots.

For areas which are not surveyed, there are other documents for land possession such as evidence of the possession of the right to utilize the land or other interests in the land.
These documents are called "Nor Sor Sam (3) and Nor Sor Sam (3) Kor". Unlike the Title Deeds, these Nor Sor documents are issued to show the possessors' exploitation of the land. Though these documents do not provide ownership rights, as do Title deeds, they can still be registered for transfer of the lands for which they are issued.

Prior to 1998, any Thai woman who married a foreigner would lose her right to purchase land in Thailand. She could, however, still retain land that she owned prior to marrying the foreigner. However, the recent (1999) Ministerial regulation now allows Thai national's married to foreigners the right to purchase land, but the Thai spouse must prove that the money used in the purchase of freehold land is legally solely theirs with no foreign claim to it. This is usually achieved by the foreign spouse signing a declaration stating that the funds used for the purchase of property belonged to the Thai spouse prior to the marriage and is beyond his claim.

Whenever a property in Thailand is bought and sold, there are four taxes that need to be taken into account.

  1. Land registration (transfer fee) of 2.0% of assessed value of the land.
  2. Stamp Duty/Fee of 0.5% of the assessed value or the sale price - whichever is higher.
  3. Specific Business Tax of 3.3% of the assessed value or the sale price - whichever is higher - this will be applied to all sales by companies and to any private sales that occur within 5 years of the date of purchase.
  4. Income Tax - this is calculated on a very complex formula based on the assessed value of the property, the length of time owned and the applicable personal income tax rate. In practice, this will work out to under 2% of the price for low to medium-value properties, and up to 3% for higher-value properties.

The local system of taxing property is based on an arbitrarily assessed value as determined by the local Land Department, rather than the true market value price. There are no set rules as to who pays for which taxes, and it is just another part of the bargaining process for purchasing property in Thailand.

Service charges here in Thailand are extremely low, this is to maintain the common areas of the building, i.e. lifts, pools and corridors. A small % is deducted for the sinking fund that covers any major external repairs; therefore there are no hidden costs once you have purchased your condo.

Foreigners generally cannot obtain a mortgage for properties in Thailand, however, most of the financial institutions in Thailand provide loans for real estate purchasing to Thais and Thai companies.

It is common for a real estate developer to arrange for his customers to have a financing package from a financial institution. In most real estate development projects, a down payment can be made in installments from 10 to 24 months.

After the down payment has been paid, the sale contract will be made and the balance amount is paid through the loan which is financed by a financial institution. The financial institution requires you to mortgage the property with it as collateral against the loan.

The new law replaces the current law on house and property tax. From 1 January 2020, taxes will be levied in accordance with the new law. The tax is also known as "Land and Building Tax" or "Property Tax".

Taxable real estate

The tax applies to both land and owner-occupied dwellings, flats and buildings, including houses, or to buildings that can be used as a residence or for storage, industrial or commercial purposes.

Tax base

At present, the House and Property Tax Act provides for a 12.5% tax on the annual rental value of a property.

Under the new law, the tax base is the estimated value (appraisal value) of the property, which is determined for the purpose of charging registration fees under the Land Code. In the absence of an estimated value, the tax base is calculated according to the criteria, methods and conditions laid down in ministerial decrees.

The estimated value corresponds to the value stated on the official purchase contract by the Landoffice. However, the Landoffice (land registry) regularly sets new values. So if the purchase contract is older, the estimated value can sometimes be significantly higher than the value in the official purchase contract.

The most important tax rates :

0,02 % for residential property per year
0.3 % for commercial properties per year

Note: For properties in the name of a company, the commercial tax rate applies. These tax rates have been fixed for 2020 and 2021 and will be regularly adjusted by decree thereafter.

Due to the Corona crisis, a reduction of 90% will be granted for 2020.

If the land or building remains empty or unoccupied for three consecutive years, the rate increases by 0.3 percentage points every three years, but not more than 3%.

The local authority authorized to levy the tax is entitled to charge a higher rate, but in any case, it may not exceed the maximum rates (max. 0.3% for residential property and max. 1.2% for commercial property.

Land is measured in Rai – Ngan – Talang Wah (Tw2)

1 Rai = 1600 square meters (1 Rai = 4 ngan or 400 Tw2)
1 Ngan = 400 square meters (1 ngan = 100 Tw2)
1 Talang Wah = 4 square meters