Registered and unregistered apartments in Thailand

Not all apartment buildings in Thailand are registered under the Condominium Act

Apartment buildings NOT registered under condominium laws do not offer individual ownership over the units. A unit in an unregistered apartment building is generally sold as lease of a specific part of the building. Only licensed apartment buildings registered under the Condominium Act offer freehold ownership and individual freehold ownership unit title deeds.

The other option is selling the building as a whole without the land. Foreigners or foreign juristic entities are allowed to own a buildings in Thailand separate from the land and the purchasers get co-ownership in the building. In case of ownership over the building this usually is combined with a 30 year land lease agreement in the name of the owner of the building.

Common mistakes with unregistered apartments

  • Some apartment leases are poorly drafted, meaning under Thai law that the lease will end at death of the lessee and is not transferable by inheritance.
  • The lease agreement is not registered with the land office, therefore not enforceable over 3 years.
  • A house book is presented as a form of ownership document or unit title deed.
  • Expecting the same protection as purchasers of condominiums have under the Condominium Act. Opposite registered condominiums there are no specific law issued regulating apartments.
  • Ending up with high maintenance fees decided by the developer (it is not a democratic structure as in the Condominium Act).

An apartment complex is an allowed concept, however, has several drawbacks and offers much less protection compared to ownership in a registered condominium. Transfer and registration of rights in an apartment unit, as opposed to registered condos, require always cooperation and approval of the owner of the building.

Both in case of an off-the-plan apartment development or existing building it is highly advised to conduct due diligence on the developer, the sales structure, compliance with the law, building and local regulations before handing over any money. Even with the best of intentions of the seller, or what your sale agreements suggest different, you buy possession of the unit for a term up to 30 years and not ownership and you do not find protection in the Condominium Act.