New property bill: more questions than answers

property lawyer
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Bangkok Post has published an article this morning regarding cabinet approval for a bill which appears, according to the story at least, to be a significant change to Thailand property law.

Unless this has been lost in translation, this news is something every property owner and tenant in Thailand will need to know.

As yet, there is no reference to this important news on the website of the Public Relations Department of the Royal Thai Government, nor any other independent reports in other media.

The website of the English language newspaper said on Tuesday morning that the Thai cabinet has approved a new bill that will grant more rights to property leaseholders who own land title deeds or condominiums.

Once enacted into law, the article says the new bill will provide leaseholders significant additional rights, much more than those offered under current law.

The article, published this morning, quoted Nattaporn Jatusripitak from the Thai government’s economic team.

Under the new bill, the article says a leaseholder who pays an agreed level of rent to the owner has the right to remain as a tenant for up to 30 years.

There is no mention of the level of rent in the article.

It also says the bill gives leaseholders greater freedom to make use of borrowed land and property by allowing them to sell, transfer, mortgage, rent or pass the property to their heirs for the duration of the rental period.

And in what will come as a shock to current property owners, the article says the bill will also allow leaseholders to sublease the rented property, or sell the remaining term without the permission of the owner.

It will also grant heirs of the leaseholder the automatic right to inherit the property.

Significantly, it also says the leaseholder will be able to modify or construct other structures on the property – regardless of the owner’s wishes. When the lease ends, any modifications or new structures will be transferred to the owner of the land or property.

Nattaporn said in the article that if the bill becomes law it will spur investors, unleash demand in the real estate sector and provide more options in property management.

While this might be good for leaseholders, based on this article it will certainly be seen as a negative move for property owners who rent their property.

These negatives, the article says, should be offset by the higher rent that property owners will be able to command, according to Nattaporn.

Casting doubt on the accuracy of this whole story, the Bangkok Post incorrectly reports: “As Thailand does not allow foreigners to acquire real estate, leasing agreements have become a popular way to skirt this law, the spokesperson said.”

This is false. Foreigners can own real estate in their own name.

The article continues to say current law views this kind of agreement as a personal contract, meaning it is automatically terminated when the lessee dies.

Concluding with one of the most important parts of this whole “story”, it attributes comments to the government spokesman saying that such agreements must be registered with the proper authorities if both sides are to benefit from the new regulations.

We can tell you for a fact that many property owners will not want to let the “authorities” know about their property ownership and rental business to avoid tax and other financial issues.

Any real estate agent involved in the rental sector in Thailand will confirm this too.

ThailandProperty.News is seeking to independently verify the accuracy of this story and obtain the Thai language wording of what has actually approved by the Thai cabinet.

Andrew Batt
The author of this article is Andrew Batt, the founder and editor of www.thailandproperty.news. Andrew has been writing about property and real estate issues in Thailand and Southeast Asia for more than 10 years. He has worked for PropertyGuru Group, DDproperty, Dot Property Group, Hipflat and AsiaRents. He has also produced content for leading Thailand property developers and real estate agencies.
Email: andrew.thailandpropertynews@gmail.com.

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