Thai Law Changes Under Consideration That May Affect Foreign Home Ownership

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  • (1888PressRelease) August 28, 2012 - Prominent Thai law firm BSA Law offers an update on the legal status of home ownership by foreigners in Thailand as Thai law authorities prepare new draft legislation to prevent illegal possession of dwelling and offer rewards for reporting individuals illegally holding property.

    The ombudsmen of Thailand are reported to be drafting Thai law that would further crack down on aspects of the so-called nominee ownership that is unfortunately a practice used by some foreign nationals in some parts of Thailand.

    "The new law includes a reward to anyone providing information about foreigners owning land through nominees. They will get 20% of the market price of that piece of land as a reward after the plot is sold," Thai Ombudsman Siracha Charoenpanij said at a seminar on foreign property ownership last month, as reported by the Bangkok Post. "Anyone related to the property business may be unhappy with this bill as it will make the market rigid. But this law can help protect the land for the next generation of Thais," he said.

    Although the outcome of any Thai law change is not yet clear, BSA would like to take the opportunity to advise foreign owners of Thai homes to seek clear advice as to their homeowner status and prepare for any changes that may result from ongoing government deliberations.

    "Some foreigners in Thailand may be unclear on the intricacies of the existing legislation regarding Thai land ownership and home ownership and would benefit from clarification of their legal status from a reputable Thai law firm," BSA spokesman Apisakde Kongkangwanchoke said. "Foreigners seeking to buy property in Thailand are in particular strongly advised to seek out a law firm in Thailand."

    BSA Law has been operating in Thailand for more than three decades, catering to foreigners seeking to start a business in Thailand and others. Tax consulting in Thailand, counselling in all aspects of Thai business law, business advice to Thailand branches of multinational businesses and other services are available, tapping the wealth of experience garnered by Thai law firm BSA Law over the decades.

    Thai law, through the Thai Land Code Act, prohibits foreigners from owning actual land in the country. Confusion may arise on occasion as the Thailand Civil and Commercial Code. The net effect is to prohibit land ownership under Thai law although special provisions may occur for foreigners starting a business in Thailand, some large multinational in certain circumstances, and in some other cases stipulated by Thai law. Again, a reputable Thai law firm would best be in a position to clarify the status of any proposed land investments in Thailand by foreign nationals.

    The situation is less clear to many foreign nationals in the case of home ownership under Thai law - the legal possession of dwellings such as apartments and other housing. This is the area of particular concern to the ombudsmen and the reported cause for consideration of Thai law changes.

    Unclear, or illegal, home ownership by foreigners in Thailand often takes the form of nominee ownership. Under this practice, prohibited by Thai law, a foreigner gives a Thai national nominal ownership of the land but, in reality, the Thai national holds no financial stake in the land. It is this and myriad other customs prohibited by Thai law regarding home ownership that will be most targeted by any Thailand law changes.

    About BSA Law:

    For nearly 30 years, Bamrung Suvicha Apisakdi Law Associates (BSA Law) has focused on providing reliable legal advice and services to the Thai and foreign business community in Thailand. BSA Law seeks to provide international standards of legal services while retaining the customs of the Thai business culture.

    For more information please contact:
    Jim Byrne
    Business Advisor, BSA Law.
    Email: jim ( @ ) bsalaw dot co dot th

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