Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Thailand usufruct’

8th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has celebrated its 44th birthday. In order to provide further information on this story it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Channel News Asia, ChannelNewsAsia.com:

SINGAPORE: Singapore will mark the 44th anniversary of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) with a flag-raising ceremony at the Indonesian Embassy on 8 August. Indonesia is the current Chairman of ASEAN. Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said this year’s celebrations are particularly significant. It said this will be the first time that the ASEAN flag will be flown at all ASEAN member states’ diplomatic and consular missions in ASEAN countries and ASEAN’s dialogue partners and ASEAN Member States’ Missions where UN headquarters and offices are located…

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Frequent readers of this web log may recall that there have been significant discussions within ASEAN regarding issues such as a unified ASEAN visa, the exchange of University credits in an intra-ASEAN context, and a framework for dealing with issues pertaining to the South China Sea. As of yet, there has not been a full resolution regarding these issues, but the dialogue continues with many hopeful that ASEAN will be able to provide a strong platform for regional and global trade as well as business.

In news which is likely of more pertinence to those in Southeast Asia, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that there is further optimism regarding the Thai real estate markets. To quote directly from the official website of The Nation, NationMultimedia.com:

The property market will benefit from political stability and the government’s policy of boosting demand in the first-home market in the second half of this year, according to property experts. A survey of leading property firms by The Nation, seeking outlooks for the property market in the second half of 2011, found most believing that following the election, home-buyers will return to the market because of renewed confidence in political stability…

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Many foreign nationals in Thailand contemplate a Thailand property purchase either in the form of a Condo in Thailand or a house. In the case of a house in Thailand, it may be possible to enjoy the benefits of a Thai home notwithstanding restrictions placed upon foreign ownership of Thai land. In fact, through use of instruments such as Thai leases or Thai usufructs it may be possible to secure virtually total control over a home in Thailand. Some opt to secure their interest in a Thai house by bifurcating the title to the house from the title to the property (sometimes referred to as a Chanote). In any case, there may be ways in which a foreign national can enjoy the benefits of real estate in Thailand.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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28th July 2009

A little known fact: Thailand is one of the few countries not colonized by the British that gave serious thought to adopting the common law. Had Thailand opted to become a common law nation the legal system would probably look very different today. Thailand is a “Civil Law” country and as a result, Thailand Real Estate law and Thai Property regulations are promulgated through the Thai Civil and Commercial Code.

There are two property rights which are relatively uncommon in English speaking countries: the usufruct and superficies. These two legal mechanisms can provide a wide range of property rights to the person who employs them. The following is an explanation of these two legal concepts for those wishing to enjoy property rights in the Kingdom of Thailand.

A usufruct grants the person holding the usufruct with the right to enjoy the use of the land in Thailand. A usufruct can be extremely beneficial because it can be written in such a way that a foreigner can be granted lifetime enjoyment of property. That being said, should the foreigner decide to place structures upon his usufruct, then those structures may need to be abandoned if and when the usufruct comes to an end.

This is where a right of superficies comes into play. The Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand makes provisions regarding superficies, the law states:

When the right of superficies is extinguished, the superficiary may take away his buildings, structures or plantations, provided he restores the land to its former condition.

Therefore, a usufruct is a very useful legal instrument because it could allow a foreigner to have lifetime enjoyment of property, but the foreigner may lose his rights to his or her structures should the usufruct expire (either during his lifetime or upon his death). By utilizing a superficies a foreigner could better protect his or her interests with regard to a Thai usufruct.

It should be noted that the holder of both a usufruct and superficies can assign his or her rights in the provisions of an instrument like a Thai lease or rental agreement. Generally, a lease such as this would expire upon the death of the usufruct holder, but Thai courts have held that leases written upon usufructs shall remain binding past the date of the usufruct holders death. The leasee in that situation would be required to continue paying the originally agreed upon payments, but the payments would be made to the underlying land owner after the usufruct holder’s death. Keep in mind that this rule was made pursuant to a Thai Supreme Court decision. Since precedent is not binding in Thailand, this may not be a hard and fast rule.

For more information regarding this subject please see: Thailand Real Estate FAQ or Thai Condo law

(Please be advised: This is not legal advice it is a personal opinion. No attorney-client relationship should be inferred to exist between the writer and any reader of this post.)

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