Restrictions on Land Ownership for Foreigners in Thailand

Restriction on Land Ownership for Foreigners

Some foreigners may wish to purchase their place of residence during their assignment, or to own property that they can visit after their assignment is complete and they no longer spend all their time in Thailand. Depending on the type of property (e.g. house or condominium), it may be possible for foreigners to purchase and own their own property, but there are many restrictions on foreigners owning land in Thailand.

The general rule is that foreigners are restricted from buying land and property in Thailand. There are several exceptions to this rule, most of which apply to ownership of land for commercial purposes rather than residential. Moreover, Thailand's conveyance system is unique and complicated. To determine whether the purchase would be allowed by a foreigner and, more importantly, whether the chain of title of a potential property is valid, professional advice must be sought.

Under Thai law, any person can register any type of building in their name with the Land Office so a foreigner can own the structure (for example a house) erected on the land, Certainty of possession of land and house is assured by being the registered owner of the house. If arranged as above then the house will be separate from the land, and will not be a component part under the Civil Law. Ownership of buildings can be established with the Land Office and the Lessor cannot seize the house upon expiration of the lease.

Buildings other than condominiums do not have any form of title document, but their sale or long lease can be registered at the Amphur (district) land office. Proof of ownership must be established either from proof of construction or a document showing sale-purchase (do not confuse this with the House License document, which is only a register of the house occupants).

Transfer of a building, as distinct from its land, requires the posting of 30 days public notice (to see if anyone wishes to contest the ownership).
Again just to confirm this, foreign nationals (aliens) may own any building (as distinct from its land) and may register such transfer of ownership into their names at the local district office.

Foreigners wanting to purchase a condominium will find the procedure less restrictive and more straight-forward. Some requirements are still imposed on foreigners when buying condominiums, but these requirements are not prohibitive. Most notable of these requirements is that one may be required to show proof that the purchase was carried out by a designated amount of foreign currency being brought into the country.


Western standard rental accommodation is not difficult to find in Bangkok. There are many apartments, condominiums, and houses available in the area. Typical expatriate accommodation would be a city central apartment or condominium between 150 and 300 square metres, with one to three en-suite bedrooms and access to a swimming pool and gymnasium. The main types of accommodation can be categorized as follows;

Serviced Apartments

Serviced Apartments are a block of apartments owned by a company. The apartments are normally fully equipped and furnished (TV, bedding, crockery, etc.). The rent will usually include cleaning of the apartment, changing bed linen, etc. and may include electricity and water. A laundry service would typically also be available. In most serviced apartments, a small menu for room service meals is available. Others have full service restaurants attached.

Advantages: On-site staff. No need to employ a maid. You only need to bring your clothes/toiletries. All utilities charges are payable to the one 'entity; convenience, similar to hotel living.

Disadvantages: You have no control over the maids visiting your apartment. Costs of utilities (telephone/ electricity) if not included, may be higher than standard. Similar to hotel living!


An apartments block in which each apartment is owned by separate and individual landlords. A condominium can be let either furnished or unfurnished and standards vary dramatically.

Advantages: Standard utility charges - you are billed directly for the telephone, electricity, etc. by the companies concerned and are billed at standard rates. You have more control over who has access to your accommodation. It may be easier to change Telephone Company. Condominiums tend to be more "individual" in furnishings, etc.

Disadvantages: There are some landlords less scrupulous than others; sometimes it is difficult to recover any deposit. Some condominium blocks may have low occupancy rates and/or the owners are facing difficult times and in such circumstances it is common for cost cutting measures to be put in place, e.g. reductions in security, cleaning and maintenance of common areas, lighting, pest control, etc. It is less common for a condominium block to have English speaking staff on site at all times. All bills are payable to separate entities.

Apartments / Housing Compounds

A block of apartments and/or housing compound owned by one company/family where the apartments/house are not serviced. Apartments can be let fully furnished, partially furnished or unfurnished. Housing compounds are less common than apartments and are most often found outside central Bangkok.

Advantages: On-site maintenance staff usually available 24 hours a day. Common area is clearly the responsibility of the single landlord, usually resulting in higher quality maintenance, cleaning, etc. All bill s are payable to the one entity. Tenants have more control over who has access to the accommodation.

Disadvantages: There may be a significant mark-up added to utility bills.

Independent Houses

Also available is a range of detached and terraced house in and around the city which can be leased from individual or corporate landlords. Such houses are normally available at a lower rent than housing in a compound or gated community, but the tenant would normally be responsible for  security. Also there is unlikely to be on-site assistance for repairs, etc. Independent housing tends to be more popular with expatriates who have some experience of living in Bangkok.

Advantages: Lower rents, more "individual" style housing available (often very picturesque and some in the Thai style), city centre sites often available, high level of privacy.

Disadvantages: No on-site maintenance staff. Pest control, air conditioner servicing, security, etc, may be tenants' responsibility. Tenant has to rely on an often absent landlord for general maintenance.

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