Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘usufruct’

28th July 2022

The Thai Immigration system remains in something of a state of flux, although the overall trend is positive. Many of the travel restrictions which had previously been imposed in Thailand have now been lifted. For example, Thailand Pass has been totally mothballed. However, there are presently a number of changes to Thai retirement visas which appear imminent. Notably, the Thai O-A retirement visa‘s insurance requirements appear likely to increase substantially in coming weeks. to quote directly from a entry of Legal.co.th regarding Thai retirement visa insurance:

[I]t was announced that O-A Retirement visas are going to see the insurance coverage requirement go up to 100,000 US Dollars or self-insurance thereof, so roughly the equivalent of 3 million Baht basically shown in a Thai bank account in order to maintain O-A Retirement Visa status.

Meanwhile, insurance seems to be a rather nettlesome issue as a proposed “Tourism Fee” has proven difficult to implement while many question the need for such a measure especially as the tourism sector in Thailand is tenuously recovering. Although it now appears this initiative has been suspended. Another issue recently in the news, seemingly unconnected to immigration policy, pertains to Thai real estate law. It seems proposed “Long Term Residence Visas” (albeit something of a misnomer as these travel documents do not confer permanent residence in Thailand) may allow foreigners to own Thai real estate under limited restrictions. However, even this proposal seems to be under serious scrutiny. To quote directly from a recent article in the Bangkok Post:

A property executive who requested anonymity said many Thais might disagree with the government’s attempt to attract affluent foreigners by granting them full land ownership of one rai for residential use. “It’s good that the government wants to boost the economy by attracting foreign investment,” said the executive. “Thailand is very attractive among foreigners. They want to stay here as our medical services are good, the cost of living is low, the food is superb, and we have a lot of international schools for their children.” However, some locals think it is unfair to them, as many still cannot afford to buy property.

Clearly, the notion of foreign nationals being able to acquire residential real estate in Thailand is not a settled issue. Furthermore, based upon prior announcements from the Thai Land Office it seems that land ownership in Thailand associated with LTR visa status may never be a reality in Thailand.

more Comments: 04

17th August 2009

Thailand Real Estate law is a complex area of jurisprudence. Many people, particularly foreigners, have misconceptions regarding what type of property rights can be accrued by non-Thais living in Thailand. First there is the mistaken belief that foreigners cannot own land. In reality, there is merely a de facto prohibition regarding foreign land ownership. A foreigner can own land in Thailand, but he or she must obtain approval from the Thai Minister of the Interior which can be a difficult proposition.

Another slightly incorrect idea circulating in the Thailand expat community is that one cannot obtain a lifetime right of use in any type of Thai real estate. However, it may be possible to acquire a usufruct which would give the person holding the usufruct the right to use the land or the structures thereon for their lifetime.

A 30 year Thai lease can also be acquired for Thai property, but it must be properly registered with the local land office. Another common misconception is the idea that one can have a 3 year “automatically renewing” lease in Thailand. This mistake would seem to stem from the fact that an unregistered Thai lease is enforceable for up to 3 years, but one needs to continually get a new lease from the land owner in order for the lease to rollover.

Recording a Thai mortgage is one method often employed by foreigners resident in Thailand who finance the purchase of property in a spouse or loved one’s name. If the foreign national ever wishes to retrieve their interest in the equity of the property, then all they need to do is foreclose on the property in order to re-acquire their funds.

There are some issues when it comes to recording these types of property interests where a third party has encumbered the Thai property by recording a mortgage at the land office. Thai banks often provide mortgages on Thai property and in order to obtain some sort of property interest in the encumered real estate one must first obtain permission from the bank. Therefore if one wishes to obtain a 30 year lease or a lifetime usufruct on the encumbered real estate owned by another, then it may be wise to contact the bank which holds the mortgage and inquire as to their position on recording leases on property they have an interest in. Sometimes, retaining the services of a competent Thailand property lawyer can be beneficial in such matters particularly as an experienced Thai real estate attorney can predict the likelihood of bank acquiesence.

more Comments: 04

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.)

more Comments: 04

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisement. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.