Property tenants in Thailand seem to have been encountering more legal issues with their rental agreements.
We are making this claim based on the number of incidents we have seen highlighted on social media in recent weeks and months.
Cases involving withheld deposits, as well as money being withheld by landlords for “unfair” damage during a Thailand property rental, seem to be the most prevalent.
One little-known and little used option available to property tenants, including non-Thais, is to raise your issues with Thailand’s Office of the Consumer Protection Board (OCPB), based at the Government Complex at Chaengwattana in Bangkok.
The OCPB can often help with arbitration between landlords and tenants under the Consumer Protection Act (No.2) B.E. 2541, which covers the rights of consumers. It can also make awards, much like a court.
Regarding property and real estate, the OCPB can ensure consumers get correct and sufficient information, as well as a description of the quality of goods or services they buy.
The includes the right to receive correct advertisements with no harm to the consumer, as well as the right to be aware of correct product or service information, and without any unfairness.
Another clause that is relevant to property and real estate tenants is the right of safety when using goods or services, which includes the rights to receive a safe product or service with proper standards, and not to be harmful to life or body.
Consumer protection laws in Thailand also give property tenants the right to a fair contract, which includes the right to receive agreed provisions without the business operator taking advantage.
Property tenants also have the right to have their alleged injury considered and compensated, which includes the right to receive the protection and compensation against any infringement.
In reality, property tenants need to understand a few things.
They will need to ensure they have thorough paperwork and evidence of the claim. Copies of contracts and pictures will all be essential.
The OCPB is not obliged to take your case; they will look at what is provided and any verbal claims, and see if it’s something they can arbitrate.
Unless you are fluent in Thai, it might be worth taking a friend, although English language skills at the OCPB are adequate. You will need to ensure your claims are fully understood by the OCPB.
The process is not a quick one and it can take a few months for the first hearing between you and your landlord. Yes, you will have to face the person you’re accusing, and they will be given the chance to defend any accusations.
There are two big plus points for considering taking your complaint to the OCPB.
First, as a Government body, a fair number of property landlords, and especially those operating under the income tax radar, will panic at the idea of Government involvement. Your landlord will understand you are serious and may be willing to settle your complaint sooner.
Second, this service is free. Some real estate agents will attempt to mediate for fear of not wanting to lose a landlord, but it’s been known for some to charge for this “service”.
The other options are engaging a law firm, which will be quicker but expensive, or simply walking away and putting it down to a learning experience.
The OCPB is completely independent, just for the record, but If anything we’d say they tend to side with the complainer. It would be up to the landlord, in these cases, to prove what you’re saying is not correct.
The OCPB also produces a very useful English language PDF booklet about its work. This is well worth a read for anyone living in Thailand as it covers made everyday issues.