Can a Foreigner Own Rental Property in Thailand?

Retirement in Thailand is the dream of many foreigners and mine too.  I plan to settle down there in about two years and have been checking out the rules for acquiring property in the land of smiles.

The easiest solution for a foreigner (farang) is to buy a condominium.  There is a percentage requirement as to the total number of farang and Thais in the condo complex.

Foreign land ownership is forbidden in Thailand.  So, the best that a farang can do is to lease the land and own the house.  The lease is good for 30 years and beyond that is anyone’s guess.  Some web sites say you can get an additional 30 years and other sites say that there is no guarantee.

Another option is to incorporate yourself as some sort of company and lease the property back to yourself as an individual. This is in the gray area of Thai law and one that I wouldn’t use.  I have friends that have done this and so far it is Ok but I worry about the future.

Lastly is something called a usufruct.  Googling this will probably give you more information and a better explanation than I can provide.  All I know is that is the option that a lawyer recommended to me and I will pursue further on my next trip to Thailand.  He claims it is similar to a lease but has some better advantages.  He will have to convince me.  

Regardless, it will be the lease or the usufruct.  Either one should allow me to have a place in Thailand until the day I die or whatever happens to the property after that I really don’t care about.

There is one final solution that I highly DON’T recommend.  You can place the property in your Thai wife or girlfriend’s name.  She will then own the property outright.  There is a minor technicality that she has to prove that she provided all the funds for the real estate – but that is an easy lie to cover.  The problem with this solution is that since she is the owner, she can do whatever she wants with the property.  You could take a two week vacation and come back and find that your house has been sold and your honey is gone.  This is definitely not advised.

Check with your lawyer and find the way to purchase/lease property for your retirement.  While you have your lawyer’s ear, check on pre-nuptial agreements and an enforceable will.  Don’t conduct any transaction of this nature without the advice of a lawyer.

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