new rental law

New rental law to start on May 1

IMPORTANT: A new rental law that includes some major changes to Thailand’s property sector will come into force on May 1.

Since first being revealed by ThailandProperty.News on January 16 there has been no coverage of this important news in any mainstream media or property outlet.

Law firm Tilleke & Gibbins has now issued a detailed clarification of the requirements of the new rental laws that will become effective on May 1.

They describe the new rental law as having a very significant impact on residential lease contracts in Thailand.

Residential property leasing will now be deemed to be a contract-controlled business following publication in the Government Gazette last week. This will come into effect of May 1, 2018.

Being designated as a contract-controlled business is intended to ensure that contracts contain necessary terms and conditions to prevent tenants from being unreasonably disadvantaged by unfair contract terms.

The notification defines a “residential property leasing business” as a business that leases (or subleases) five units of property or more to individual lessees, for residential purposes, in exchange for a fee collected by the business operator, regardless of whether or not the units are in the same building.

Property is defined to include any accommodation, house, condominium unit, apartment, or other kind of residential property leased for residential purposes, excluding dormitories and hotels which are regulated separately.

So, for landlords or companies that own and rent five or more properties, this is an important development. It’s also important for their tenants.

The notification imposes the following requirements:

1. Residential lease agreements must include a version in Thai, and must contain the following details:

a) The name and address of the business operator and its authorised person;

b) The name and address of the lessee;

c) The name and location of the property;

d) Details of the property’s physical condition, including any items and equipment in the property;

e) Term of the lease, specifying its commencement date and expiration date;

f) Rental fees, and due dates for payment;

g) Public utility fee rates, and due dates for payment;

h) Service fee rates, which must be reasonable and at the actual cost paid for the services, and due dates for payment;

i) Other fees and expenses (if any), which must be reasonable and at the actual cost paid, and due dates for payment; and,

j) The amount of security deposit.

2. Invoices for the fees in items (f)-(i) above must be sent to the lessee at least seven days before their due dates, and the lessee will have the right to check information related to the payments shown in the invoices.

3. Details of the physical condition of the property and equipment (if any), inspected and acknowledged by the lessee, must be attached to the lease agreement, and a duplicate must be delivered to the lessee.

4. The security deposit must be immediately returned to the lessee at the end of the agreement, unless the business operator has to investigate any damage to ascertain whether or not it is the responsibility of the lessee. If the lessee is found not to have caused such damage, the security deposit must be returned within seven days from the end of the agreement and the business operator retaking possession of the property. The business operator is also responsible for any expenses incurred in returning the security deposit to the lessee.

5. The lessee has the right to terminate the lease agreement early, provided that at least 30 days’ advance written notice is given to the business operator.

6. Any material breach for which the business operator can terminate the agreement must be clearly written in red, bold, or italic font. The business operator can only terminate the agreement if written notice has been given to the lessee to rectify the breach within 30 days of receipt and the lessee fails to do so.

7. The agreement must be made in duplicate, one of which must be given to the lessee immediately upon execution.

Under section 35 of the Consumer Protection Act, any residential lease agreement which does not contain the required terms above shall be interpreted to include them as implied terms.

Residential lease agreements must not contain:

1. Any waiver or limitation of the business operator’s liability from its breach of agreement or wrongful acts;

2. Any advance rental fee equivalent to more than one-month’s rent;

3. Any term allowing the business operator to change the rental fees, public utilities fees, service fees, or any other expenses before the end of the agreement;

4. Any security deposit of more than one-month’s rental fee;

5. Any term allowing the business operator to confiscate the security deposit or advance rental fee;

6. Any term allowing the business operator or its representatives to inspect the property without prior notice;

7. Any stipulation of electricity and water supply fees exceeding the rates specified by the relevant authorities;

8. Any term allowing the business operator to prevent or obstruct the lessee’s access to the property to seize or remove the lessee’s belongings if the lessee defaults on rental fees or other expenses related to the lease of the property;

9. Any term allowing the business operator to request any fee or expense for renewing the lease;

10. Any term allowing the business operator to terminate the agreement early other than for a material breach of the lease agreement by the lessee;

11. Any term making the lessee liable for damages incurred due to ordinary wear and tear from usage of the property’s contents and equipment;

12. Any term making the lessee liable for damage to the property, contents, and equipment that was not the lessee’s fault and in force majeure situations; and

13. Any term making the lessee liable for defects to the property, contents, and equipment incurred due to ordinary wear and tear through usage.

Also, under section 35 of the Consumer Protection Act, a residential lease agreement that includes any of the prohibited terms above shall be interpreted as not including them.

Any business operator who fails to meet the above requirements may be subject to imprisonment not exceeding one year and/or a fine not exceeding THB 100,000 (section 57 of the Consumer Protection Act).

This advice was published by Tilleke & Gibbins’ Chaiwat Keratisuthisathorn.

In summary, ThailandProperty.News notes the following important points.

1) This new legal development will only apply to residential property landlords with five or more properties. Given the passion for property investment in Thailand, we know there will be a considerable number of Thai landlords affected by this development.

2) As a tenant you should request an English version of your tenancy agreement, even though the need for a Thai language one is specified. If it’s a translation, remember that it will only be as good as the translator’s skills.

3) Landlords are prevented from charging more for basic utilities than they actually cost.

4) Landlords can only request one-month in advance rental payment and one-month as a security deposit. Currently almost every rental requires two-months as security and one-month rent in advance.

5) Wear and tear cannot be used as a reason to not return any deposit, which also must be returned within seven days.

6) Even when signing a one-year agreement, or longer, tenants have the right to leave giving 30 days’ notice. No more “take over my lease” listings in these cases, we think.

7) Landlords can still inspect their property during an any rental period, but not without advance notice.

As with any property rental, ThailandProperty.News suggests you either (a) obtain legal advice before signing a legal rental agreement, or (b) ensure you fully understand the legal implications of any documents you sign.

31 thoughts on “New rental law to start on May 1

  1. Dinesh

    What nonsense. The deposit should cover 2 months deposit to cover damages which thru experience can amount to more then their deposits. Also returning the deposit within, 7 days is not feasible as we have to make sure the electric and water bills are paid up. Whoever has come out with these terms is of course a moron and hasn’t paid or gotten any feedback, so it seems, from the owners who rent their properties

    • mike

      4 weeks is only required in Australia, i see no problem !!

  2. AJB

    This is Andrew, editor of ThailandProperty.News. I am personally very surprised at the lack of mainstream media coverage of this news, especially as it appears to have been in discussion last year, before being approved by the Cabinet in early January this year. I believe it came as a shock to most of the real estate agencies I’ve spoken to about this, and many of them, and their landlords, are still unaware.

    You’re right, of course, about the deposits. Remember this will only apply to people with five or more rental properties.

    I think this is one step towards making all rentals more transparent in terms of taxes, etc, I know, from past experiences, that many landlords will not declare the full extent of their property rental activities to the relevant authorities. That might be one of the motivations behind this, but as you say there is a lot that does appear to be wrong with what needs to be part of any Law.

    Thanks so much for your comment. It’s much appreciated.

  3. Yes that is an interesting deal from the Thai Government , not bad though. Then again it only applies to large property owners greater that five so most people who rent 1 or 2 condos out it does not apply it seems. If you own an apartment building then that is another story, Thanks for the info !!

  4. AJB

    Hi Michael, this is Andrew – editor of ThailandProperty.News.

    Thank you for your comment. Yes, your right that this new Law will only apply to landlords owning five or more rental properties however, from my discussions with real estate agencies over the weekend, and from personal knowledge when I worked in the rental sector for a short time, I would suggest that about 50% of rentals in Bangkok are owned by Thais that would be impacted by this Law. One of the questions will be, how does a tenant, or indeed an agent, know what they own if they fail to declare it, or have no intention of declaring it for tax reasons?

    Although the news of a new Law has been known for a few months, it seems the fact it comes into effect on May 1 has come as a big surprise to many.

    Thanks again Michael, for taking the time to comment. It’s much appreciated.

  5. Chris

    This is the logical continuation of the government to collect the taxes due by landlords.
    Since 2016 any foreigner rented a property must register his residential address with full landlord information, at the immigration office…. this is was the 1st step to know landlords who rent their property to a foreigner..
    The nonsence is one month deposit, how landlord can accept only 1 month deposit when they have to pay 1 month to the agency … how we should do to get our commission ? ask the tenant to pay ??.. i spoke with many of my colleagues… and everyone is agreed to say.. it’s impossible… separate 1 month deposit for the property and 1 month for the furniture ?… then how to do in case of unfurnished property ?..
    Also.. what will do the landlord to make up the shortfall ?… increase the rental fee ?… how to do when the competition in low and middle range property is so hard .. Rent price are more in a downtrend than bullish due of the very tough competition in low and middle-range segment ..

  6. AJB

    Chris, this is Andrew, editor of ThailandProperty.News.

    Thank you for your comments, which I totally understand. The deposit clause makes no sense. I’ve get to find a real estate agency that was aware this was happening, being discussed at Cabinet level and then published in the Royal Gazette and prepared to come into effect.

    You raise some extremely good questions, and no one has been able to answer them.

    I really don’t know how you, and others, can make your concerns known now that this will be coming in on May 1. I will try to think what’s the best way forward/ Perhaps a short meeting sometime soon with concerned real estate agents? What are your thoughts?


    • Chris

      Hi Andrew, thanks for your comment, yes, we should plan a meeting with agency, and maybe some landlords .. and discuss how to find out .. Thanks again


  7. richard spiro

    the landlord owns ten apts in one building. Is this considered one property or ten properties?

  8. AJB

    Thanks Richard, our understanding (although we could be wrong) is that this will count as ten rentals because each unit will be owned separately. Perhaps in this situation we would suggest taking legal advice.

    Your comment is very much appreciated.

  9. Hugh Jardon

    This is great. So now people come in and negotiate very low rent for a 2 year contract and move out after 1 month if they provide notice. Nice way to get a 31 day tenancy for LT price!
    It makes sense then to own your portfolio’s in Thai company name? Buy the condo cheaper then as the company is the owner you don’t fall foul of any of these laws.

  10. AJB

    Hugh, thanks for your comments.

    There does appear to be a lot “wrong” with this new law, or at least parts that need serious clarification based on what is understood to be part of this new Law.

    It’s just surprising there does not appear to have been any high-level consultations before this even came to the Cabinet for approval.

    As it stands we think this is certainly something that is negative for current and future landlords.

  11. The landlord lost all his/her right, yet they are the ones investing millions. This law will make property prices drop -and for good reasons due to this stupid new law. No responsible landlord wants to rent a nice furnished place, if all they can ask for is one month security deposit…and where most of the time the security deposit would all go to the property agent as commission. As even asking for any advance rental is strictly prohibited with jail and big fine threats to the landlord.
    No reciprocity: think about this why now would any landlord commit to any longer term lease and promised rental price arrangement, when the tenant does not have to commit to anything more then 30 days. It so single handily makes all rentals now monthly only.
    Again, why would any landlord pay the yearly agent rental commission in advance, when he/she only gets 1 month deposit, as it so means all the deposit goes straight to the property agent, and the landlord gets none.

  12. AJB

    Paul, thanks for your comments.

    Looking at what has been approved as part of the new Law, we would certainly agree that this does appear to be a very bad move for Thailand’s property sector in terms of landlords who own five or more properties. Quite why these issues were not discussed before being approved by the Thai Government is not clear.

    We think, but can only guess, that this is a move towards cutting down on landlords who “hide” their rental businesses from the authorities.

    It also looks like another step towards taking agents out of the multi-landlord property rental business, but this isn’t that way to do it.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  13. Thanks for running this site AJB. Now why would the govt. want to take multi-landlords out of the property rental business? The way things are it already got most individuals out of the SET stock market investing, due to brokers obsession with trading/or manipulating stocks…when many studies over decades have shown most individual traders loose money over time. Post that they bad mouth stocks, when it was the ill-strategy so favored here. Over the past say 12-18 months, there has been a tremendous decline of individual stock investors in the SET, yes despite the market being more bullish. Now on top, there will be less reasons to rent properties out! Hence where are individual investors supposed to go in Thailand? Which is becoming increasingly so an intermediation of savings nightmare.

  14. AJB

    Thanks for your kind comments Paul.

    I think rather than taking multi-landlords out of the sector, the Government might be trying to bring them into it, legally. I know from my own experiences that some landlords will only want to take rental payments in cash – for obvious reasons.

    When I first published about this new law passing through Cabinet in early January I wrote there were more questions than answers, and now we know more details I still believe that to be the case.

    Thanks again, Paul.

  15. I don’t understand how a new law which is supposedly drafted to protect renters will bring landlords more into the tax scheme?

    Nor, why anybody with a nice, furnished place would rent it out it they can only get one month as a security deposit, especially if that deposit tmust be paid to the real estate agent as commission.

    The real estate agent will now no doubt tell us how to get around this, … blah, blah … but let’s fact it, they are not at risk if something goes amiss (renter not happy).

    The property owner gets the brunt, the law, the fine … even the prison sentence that is being threatened by this law. As is this, it is a property renter can-of-worms new nightmare.

    Perhaps all should all go the AirBNB way, as that way, at least, one has some recourse if a property owner gets abused. As this new law will be, there is no owner recourse … it’s a game changer.

  16. This appears to be a step in the right direction for tenant protections; though does not protect owner(s) from damages (hence the typical 2 month deposit). If you’re in an annual contract, it would seem the tenant should provide a verifiable reason to vacate (this is common in the states).

    For owners looking to hide income an average of 12.5% income tax .. it will be interesting to see how the market reacts, and how it is monitored. The Land Dept is the source of info on the owners.

    The buildings are typically the ones to tack a premium on utils.. will they be mandated to comply to the new law, I wonder.

    I hope this is one of many steps toward (desperately needed) real estate estate reform in Thailand to protect agents, buyers, and sellers.

    Thanks for the article!

  17. Jack Herrington

    This is great news! No more stealing deposits from foreigners.

  18. St.Bangkok

    I worked in a Bangkok real estate agency for many years and, to be honest, I am not sure what difference this will make to the average expat or owner. Like many Thai laws, it seems to be a lot of noise over a new law that, in truth, will change very little. Real estate agencies in Bangkok need radical changes, regulation and all sorts. Yes, sometimes you get a bad owner who steals the deposit as mentioned above, but I have also seen the other side of the coin where a pleasant, professional mild-mannered gent of a tenant turns into a monster after a few months in the bar scene and trashes some poor owners’ place, leaving them seriously out of pocket. Renting, owning and buying in thailand is no better to investing in an AIM stock in the U.K. It is the wild west of real estate, a total gamble. It does not help that most agents and news sites (this one aside), always talk the market up, up and up, while the truth is not at all what you would expect.

  19. AJB

    Thanks for your comments, and for your kind words about this website. I would agree with everything you have said, except that I have seen a huge increase even during the last 12 months, of tenants taking to social media complaining about the loss of their two-month security deposit. Most seem to take it as being part of renting in Thailand, but I always suggest the Office of the Board of Consumer Protection as one way, free but not always quick, as one way to examine the options available. For that you need signed agreements and evidence, pictures, etc, but I know at least ten cases where just the threat of involving this Government body has been enough.

    Thanks again David, for your comments.

  20. Jack Boomsma

    Request for advice: I moved into a house on January 13th in a residential area with more then 5 properties owned by 1 landlord. I did pay 2 months deposit when I moved in but I still don’t have a rental contract. I requested this several times now, also because i need this for the immigration office. With the new upcoming law in mind what is wise to do? Draft a contract with the new rules already in place? And delay till May the 1st? For me as a tenant this law is a huge advantage. Much more fair and also in line with international standards.

  21. AJB

    Hello Jack. Thanks for your comment.

    First, I am not a lawyer so this reply is only based on my experience and observations. What you do really depends on (a) your relationship with your landlord, and (b) whether you wish to stay in your current property. If you’ve already told your landlord you need a contract for immigration, you could try one more time. Your landlord needs to report that fact you are staying in his/her property to immigration anyway.

    The contract needs to come from your landlord, and I am sure if he/she has multiple properties they must have a default contract.

    Right now I think your position is not good, in some ways. You have no legal agreements to prevent your landlord giving you notice to quit, for example. He/she could also claim for damage or lost furniture that wasn’t even there when you started to rent. If you have no intention to stay you could use the delay in giving you a legal contract as one reason for looking around for alternatives.

    As a non-Thai a rental contract can be used for many things, and is sometimes a necessity for phone contracts, for example. You should really do everything to encourage your landlord to give you one, and one that is backdated and one you understand.

    As for May 1 and the new law, one question many are asking is how can you, as a tenant, know about the ownership of your landlord? Maybe he/she has the properties in different family names?

    I agree the new law does provide many advantages for tenants, but don’t wait until May 1 to get your contract sorted. Good luck.

    Andrew – Editor, ThailandProperty.News.

  22. Terry

    Hi. A bit surprised by the strong reactions against the 1-month max deposit. I don’t really see the problem as in my country – France – the legal maximum deposit is also 1 month rent, and it certainly doesn’t prevent owners to rent, even luxury properties. If I remember well, it was also 1-month in Australia and in Brazil.

    About the 1-month to the Agent, seems a strange rule to me, and surely it should be change to something like “a percent of the rental fee during the first year”. To be negotiated…

    I think this law it’s a good thing as many farang owners abuse of the system and never give back the deposit. This is especially true in Pattaya were many tenants return to their home country after the rental, and owners know they will not be able to do anything against them… 🙁

    • Chris

      Hi Terry,

      The difference between France and Thailand, In France, the tenant pay himself the agency fee = 1 month of the rental fee. In Thailand, landlord use the 2nd month of security deposit to pay the agency fee.

  23. AJB

    Thanks for your comment Terry. You make some interesting points, but I think we are just as surprised as you about the reaction to this news – on both sides.

    I think the fact it’s got traction is because it’s a big change for some people. Agents that handle rentals get one-month in commission for a one-year agreement, and I don’t know whether some will move to a fixed price transaction – that would seem to make sense to me.

    The non-return of rentals in a problem for Thai and non-Thai landlords, and enforcement, as some others have mentioned, will be the largest problem. I do not believe the enforcing authority are prepared for what is coming.

    Thanks again Sir, your comment is very much appreciated.

  24. Alfie Wells

    Hi all, I think a meeting with real estate agents and with someone with real understanding about the new changes would be good. This is very important to get this right as some of it is confusing.

  25. AJB

    Alfie, thanks for your comments.

    First, this and other issues are being discussed at a networking event this coming Friday evening. Details are on the top right on this website – it is being organized by Prop2Morrow and I will be highlighting the important parts of this new law.

    Can I ask, what do you find confusing? I will do my best to answer any questions.

    Thanks again Alfie.

    Andrew – Editor, ThailandProperty.News.

  26. Jack Boomsma

    Hello Andrew,

    Thank you for your answer on my post dated March the 12th. I am sure all houses are in the same name / company because all rental contracts are signed by the same limited company representative. I checked this with my neighbours. I talked with the manager and it is amazing. They don’t have any knowledge about the upcoming changes. They literally told me that they haven’t heard anything from the Thai goverment about this. I will be a huge surprise to many of the landlords / owners.

    Also my neighbours weren’t aware but they will contact the lessee this week as well.


    Jack Boomsma

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