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Another view on Thai property law กฏหมายไทย isn’t simple. Street smart Thai law for expats by real lawyers with real experience.


Enforceability of a rental with a fixed term and consecutive leases

Thai Lease Registration


lease agreement text Thai and English script

Under hire of property laws in Thailand any property lease (rental with a fixed term) exceeding 3 years must be in writing and recorded on the ownership title deed (land or condominium title deed) as kept in the registers of the provincial or local land office section 538 Civil and Commercial CodeThai law translation section 538 Civil Code: 'A hire of immovable property is not enforceable by action unless there be some written evidence signed by the party liable. If the hire is for more than three years or for the life of the letter or hirer, it is enforceable only for three years unless it is made in writing and registered by the competent official' In Thai: มาตรา 538 เช่าอสังหาริมทรัพย์นั้น ถ้ามิได้มีหลักฐานเป็นหนังสือ อย่างหนึ่งอย่างใดลงลายมือชื่อฝ่ายที่ต้องรับผิดเป็นสำคัญ ท่านว่า จะฟ้องร้องให้บังคับคดีหาได้ไม่ ถ้าเช่ามีกำหนดกว่าสามปีขึ้นไป หรือกำหนดตลอดอายุของผู้เช่าหรือผู้ให้เช่าไซร้ หากมิได้ทำเป็น หนังสือและจดทะเบียนต่อพนักงานเจ้าหน้าที่ ท่านว่าการเช่นนั้น จะฟ้องร้องให้บังคับคดีได้แต่เพียงสามปี. If the lease agreement between the parties is not registered with the Land Department the lease is enforceable by action for a 3 year term only. The term of a registered lease agreement cannot exceed 30 years (section 540 Thai law translation section 540 Civil and Commercial Code: 'The duration of a hire of immovable property cannot exceed thirty years. If it is made for a longer period, such period shall be reduced to thirty years. The aforesaid period may be renewed, but it must not exceed thirty years from the time of renewal.' In Thai มาตรา 540 อันอสังหาริมทรัพย์ ท่านห้ามมิให้เช่ากันเป็นกำหนด เวลาเกินกว่าสามสิบปี ถ้าได้ทำสัญญากันไว้เป็นกำหนดเวลานาน กว่านั้นท่านก็ให้ลดลงมาเป็นสามสิบปี อนึ่ง กำหนดเวลาเช่าดั่งกล่าวมานี้ เมื่อสิ้นลงแล้วจะต่อสัญญาอีก ก็ได้แต่ต้องอย่าให้เกินสามสิบปีนับแต่วันต่อสัญญา) and is automatically extinguished at the end of the registered term (section 564Thai law translation section 564 Civil and Commercial Code: 'A contract of hire is extinguished at the end of the agreed period without notice.' In Thai: มาตรา 564 อันสัญญาเช่านั้น ท่านว่าย่อมระงับไปเมื่อสิ้นกำหนด เวลาที่ได้ตกลงกันไว้ มิพักต้องบอกกล่าวก่อน ). A short term contract does not have to be registered but must be in writing to be enforceable by legal action.

Land department issued ownership deed

The land offices in Thailand only use Thai language and Thai script documents, even the foreigner's name in the contract is usually written in Thai script. The lease must be drawn up in the Thai language but may contain a translation in another language.

In practice a lease can only be registered over land with a confirmed right of possession or freehold ownership title deed (land with a title). A long term condominium apartment lease in a licensed condominium is registered with the local land office where the condominium is located and will be noted on the backside of condominium unit ownership title deed (image right). A lease agreement of a unit in an apartment building not registered under the Condominium Act will be registered as a lease over part of the building on the land title deed and specified in the plan of the building read more...

Lease registration fee

A lease registration fee shall be collected by the provincial or local land office at the rate of 1% of the total rental throughout the lease term. Rental shall include the remuneration for the lease, the remuneration during the construction, the key money, the fee for the land's survey, the construction cost contribution or other amount of money paid by the lessee to the lessor for the lease benefits. Stamp duty shall be collected on the registration of the lease at the rate of 0.1% of the total rental throughout the lease term.

Possession of real estate in Thailand under a lease agreement

Payment of rent


Payment of rent is under Thai law an essential element of a lease agreement (section 537Section 537 'A hire of property is a contract whereby a person, called the letter, agrees to let another person, called the hirer, have the use or benefit of a property for a limited period of time and the hirer agrees to pay rent therefore', In Thai: มาตรา 537 อันว่าเช่าทรัพย์สินนั้น คือสัญญาซึ่งบุคคลคนหนึ่ง เรียกว่าผู้ให้เช่า ตกลงให้บุคคลอีกคนหนึ่ง เรียกว่าผู้เช่าได้ใช้หรือ ได้รับประโยชน์ในทรัพย์สินอย่างใดอย่างหนึ่งชั่วระยะเวลาอันมีจำกัด และผู้เช่าตกลงจะให้ค่าเช่าเพื่อการนั้น). Possession of a real property under a lease agreement in Thailand without payment of rent would not be enforceable as hire of property under the Civil and Commercial Code. A lease without a lease price would not be governed by the chapter hire of property but for example by right of habitation or usufruct laws and a different set of rules would apply. For the registration of a lease agreement the land office will require that the lease includes a rent. The lease price or rental price must be considered a reasonable rent or the land office wil refuse registration of the lease agreement or will assess the rent based on the government appraised value of the property (registration fees, property tax, income tax for the owner will be based on this amount). Lease as opposed to superficies, usufruct or habitation cannot be registered for a nominal (1 baht) amount or without consideration to be paid.

The appraised valuations are set by the Treasury Department and the Land Department and adjusted every 4 years. The appraised value should be as closely as possible to the actual market value of the property. The assessed value is used as a baseline for market transactions and for tax purposes. Market value is the probable open market price agreed on by a willing and knowledgeable buyer and seller with no prior relationship with each other where the transaction is not a forced sale. The market value is the probable price on the date of the valuation or appraisal under normal market conditions.

A residential property lease in Thailand can be made for a term not exceeding 30 years at the time. Rental payment can be made in advance for the whole term, but not for additional lease terms or a term exceeding the registered 30 years lease term. It has previously been common practice in the Thailand real estate market to inlude additional pre-paid terms in a 30 year lease agreement aimed at foreigners (e.g. suggesting a fully paid 90 year term), however, under new 2008 land office regulations the land officers must reject registration of lease agreements containing such (void) clauses.

Leasehold and re-sale of a lease agreement 

Hire of Immovable property


Lease in the Civil and Commercial Code is placed under the rubric contracts and as a hire of property primarily a personal contract right of the lessee (termination upon death of the lessee) with aspects of a real property right'Real property rights are rights over real estate enforceable against all other persons (e.g. right of the lessee to sublet if agreed), as opposed to contract promises (e.g. lease renewal option) which are enforceable against a particular person or persons - under Thai hire of property laws the dividing line between real property (lease) rights and personal contract promises in a lease agreement is not always easy to draw'. This is the reason why under Thai law the right to sub-rent or assignment of a residential lease agreement is only allowed if the lease agreement contains the right of the lessee to transfer his lease rights or transfer possession of the leased property to a third person (section 544 Section 544 (Civil and Commercial Code): 'Unless otherwise provided by the contract of hire, a hirer cannot sublet or transfer his rights in the whole or part of the property hired to a third person. If the hirer fails to comply with this provision, the letter may terminate the contract.' In Thai: มาตรา 544 ทรัพย์สินซึ่งเช่านั้น ผู้เช่าจะให้เช่าช่วงหรือโอนสิทธิ ของตนอันมีในทรัพย์สินนั้นไม่ว่าทั้งหมดหรือแต่บางส่วนให้แก่บุคคล ภายนอก ท่านว่าหาอาจทำได้ไม่ เว้นแต่จะได้ตกลงกันไว้เป็นอย่างอื่น ในสัญญาเช่า ถ้าผู้เช่าประพฤติฝ่าฝืนบทบัญญัติอันนี้ ผู้ให้เช่าจะบอกเลิกสัญญา เสียก็ได้). The right of the lessee to sublet or assignment of his lease must be included in the lease agreement or the lessee is under Thai laws not allowed to sublet or assign the lease to another person.

Sub-lease or sublet:
Transfer of lease rights:
  1. the lease remains binding upon the original lessee
  2. the lessee has to execute a new lease with the sub-lessee
  3. does not have to be in writing or have written evidence
  1. the transferee lessee takes the place of the original lessee
  2. the lease rights will transfer subject to the lease
  3. must be in writing (section 306 Civil and Commercial Code)

Lease and an agreed investment in land or real estate

Special Reciprocal Contract


Contrary to a lease agreement governed by normal hire of property laws this type of special lease contract is not specified in the Civil and Commercial Code but created by the Thailand Supreme Court. In some specific situations where the lessee has made an agreed substantial investment in the improvement of the leased property that upon expiration of the contract will benefit the owner the lease could be deemed a special reciprocal contract. When there is mutual agreement between the parties of making the investment by the lessee and the benefit for the owner upon expiration of the contract term the hire of property contract could be consider a special reciprocal contract and (based on Supreme Court Judgments) a different set of rules would apply on the contract (beyond hire of property laws). This type of special contract is not specified in the Civil and Commercial Code but is created by the Supreme Court but has limited application.

Laws governing leasehold, lease and rentals of real estate and condos

Hire of property laws


The legal agreement whereby rent is paid in order to use another man's real estate property (residential or commercial property) in Thailand is governed by the lease agreement between the parties and the Civil and Commercial Code. The laws governing hire of property in Thailand is applied in the same manner if the hirer is a Thai or foreign national. The primary source of laws governing hire of property is the Civil and Commercial Code. The general principles of lease (as a contract) is governed by Title VI Juristic Acts and Book II Obligations and more specifically the Chapter Hire of Property, but the Supreme Court of Thailand gives rules for the exact interpretation of words and sections of the Civil and Commercial Code and therefore lease in Thailand cannot be fully understood without also taking into account specific Supreme Court judgements. You can read the Civil Code but won't be able to fully understand it.

What is lease or leasehold in Thailand

The main drawback of Thai property law is that leasehold in Thailand is not a real property right (governed by book IV Property) but a personal contract right of the lessee (governed by book III specific contracts). The lessee cannot buy or sell his lease unless the owner is willing to cooperate, the lessee cannot mortgage his lease nor use it as collateral. Lease in Thailand is in essence a normal hire of property contract (a tenancy) governed by the section hire of property in the Civil and Commercial Code. A lease in Thailand (as it is in essence a normal tenancy) is a personal right of the lessee and attached to the lessee therefore according to the Thailand Supreme Court terminated upon the lessee's death.

The Chapter Hire of Property (lease in the Civil and Commercial Code)

Only in case of specific commercial leases the Thai government created a specific act requiring large investments into Thailand; the Hire of Immovable Property for Commerce and Industry by Foreigners.

Lease contract and lease term


The term of a real estate lease in Thailand may be fixed or periodic. The maximum lease term in Thailand is 30 years (section 540Translation Civil and Commercial Code section 540: 'The duration of a hire of immovable property cannot exceed thirty years. If it is made for a longer period, such period shall be reduced to thirty years. The aforesaid period may be renewed, but it must not exceed thirty years from the time of renewal'.). Any lease of immovable property for a longer period than 30 years in Thailand may only be made by renewal of the lease contract upon its expiration. Based on supreme court judgment it is possible to say that a valid and enforceable renewal can only be made within a period of 3 years prior to the expiration of the first lease term (not 30 years prior to expiration). If for example the lessor and lessee have executed 2 or more consecutive 30-year lease agreements it shall by law be deemed as 1 lease and reduced to 30 years.

For specific leases by foreign corporations the Thai government created a longer term in a specific act; the Hire of Immovable Property for Commerce and Industry by Foreigners Act B.E. 2542.

Thai law puts a limit of 30 years on any property lease in Thailand. Parties cannot extent this term in the contract. For the same reason parties cannot make an enforceable provisiona guaranteed renewal of a 30-year lease would be in conflict with the law (section 540) as it would extent the maximum lease term by contract option for renewal of a 30 year lease term. A renewal promise in a 30 year lease agreement is under Thai hire of property laws not enforeable by legal action and legally best described as a moral obligation to the person or developer who gave the option. A renewal promise in a 30 year lease agreement merely hold the illusion of a longer lease contract.

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