Laws and Regulations

If you are considering a construction project in Thailand, be aware there are Thai laws and regulations governing what you do, what you can own, how you can do it and where you can do it. Just as in any country there are governmental procedures, legal restrictions and processes you must abide by. If you do not follow them and break the regulations or laws you can have your project stopped, legal conflicts, neighborly disputes and worst case scenario be told to demolish the building. In Europe, Australia, USA or any country for that matter, we all know there are laws and regulations we must abide by to build a property or development. And this is the exactly the same in Thailand. In fact many of the regulations are extremely good and are put in place to try and help protect people’s rights. Thailand's property laws can help stop new construction projects from becoming a problem for the neighbors, protect people’s views, stop the encroachment of public land/national parks and make sure things are done with a degree of correctness. They are there for good reasons.

Of course there are exceptions and one will hear of property disputes, neighbors arguing over boundaries, encroachment of national parks and people protesting about large scale developments. However this is the same anywhere in the world. Thailand is of course not perfect and just as overseas in other countries; there are always people who break laws and regulations, while the majority follows them. Those who ignore regulations normally spend their lives involved in conflicts and costly problems. It is simply not worth it and best avoided. If you are considering building in Thailand, you should engage a Thai lawyer to help do due diligence and enlighten you to regulations.  You should follow the Thai laws and the regulations; because if you do not, you could find yourself entangled in legal disputes, costly actions and all manner of unnecessary conflicts. So do it the correct way.

Thailand Property Ownership

Often people ask about what foreigners can legally own in Thailand. This is especially important in regards land and property. We are not Thai lawyers and we do not practice law. Although we are aware of some of the information, we prefer you seek proper legal advice in Thailand. It is not correct for us to advise you when laws are complex and often change in time.  Please seek a Thai lawyer’s advice and make your own decisions based on the information. For a small amount of money you could save yourself millions of baht and avoid serious complications that are easily avoidable. You are then clear and can go forward with the correct information. Check that the lawyer you engage is licenced and is a legal authority. Often someone you know can recommend a good lawyer to engage, or you can find them in most of the major cities. Always seek good legal advice. It can save you so many problems and costly mistakes.

Check with a Lawyer in Thailand

Buying property and building property is involving large sums of money. It is an important investment so take care and do all the thorough checks. Our advice again, is not to listen to bar stool experts or wannabe legal advisors, but check with the proper professional people. There is nothing wrong with listening to friend’s advice or people who have done it before themselves; but do make sure you find out for yourself too. To not wish to pay a Thai lawyer maybe 30,000 baht to help you do checks,  or 10,000 Baht to have the local authority do a boundary survey on your land, is short sighted to say the very least. You would use a lawyer in your own country and get professionals to help; so use one in Thailand. We all know there are laws and regulations to follow, so act accordingly in Thailand too. There are plenty of court cases over boundary disputes, builders not finishing, and projects stopped due to illegal encroachment of property, misuse of property and people ignoring the laws of Thailand. Simple procedures can save you millions of Baht in problems later on. Be a winner not a fool !

Please note:

Remember when you buy from a real estate agent in Thailand, they are on a commission to sell. They want you to buy so they can make money. That is of course acceptable and normal. They are entitled to their commission and often work hard to make a sale. But when it comes to the regulations and laws there is no problem in listening to what they say; but do verify it with a Thai lawyer before making any final decisions. And for both parties it is more sensible to make sure it is an independent lawyer of your choosing. Not one recommended by the real estate agent.

Below are a few points to consider:
  1. If you are entitled to own property in Thailand and have the legal status to do so and have land: Make sure you have your property boundary markers checked by the Thai local authority. A simple survey is not expensive and provides peace of mind. It is illegal to move or tamper with property boundary markers. They are small posts or markers put in by the government officials. To move them or damage them in any way is a criminal act. But naturally sometimes they have got broken over the years, or moved or lost over time, hidden by jungle or hard to know if in the correct position.  For not a large sum of money you can ask the local authority to do a boundary and property survey check.  It can be as little as 5,000- 10,000 Baht and is such a worthwhile thing to do. It is money very well spent ! But do check with the local authority for current cost to do it.
  2. There are set back laws regarding how close a house or property can be to the boundary of the property, the road or other locations. You must abide by this and check with a lawyer or local authority or architect before you build the property in the wrong place. This is to protect you and other people from being too close to each other so abide by it; or find yourself in costly disputes later on.
  3. For commercial property such as factories, condominiums, resorts and hotels there are plenty of laws and regulations to abide by and follow. Some are in regards to how high you can build, some are to how many car parks spaces you must have, some are to how close you can build to the beach or the boundary line and others are in consideration to the environmental regulations. If you are considering a commercial construction project in Thailand you must hire a lawyer to help you.  These regulations can be according to the location, especially if in protected areas such as the old part of the city, close to rivers, national parks, temples, green areas and beaches. There are plenty of licenses to apply for and regulations to adhere to, so speak to a professional Thai lawyer to help you. It is imperative.
  4. Check with your lawyer regarding any property taxes and fees you will encounter. It is important to know costs before you start a project.
  5. Don’t forget sometimes applications for permissions to build take time so you cannot start a project without the correct legal permissions from the authorities. If you are unfamiliar with them check with your lawyer. The lawyer can even apply for you if you have given him/her legal right to do so and act for you; he/she will also advise how best to do it, when to do it and the process, costs etc.
  6. Unless you speak fluent Thai and/or have someone you completely trust 100% who speaks fluent Thai, or is a Thai national, then make sure you speak to a lawyer. Trying to deal with laws, government authorities and laws without understanding written and spoken Thai is asking for trouble. As you will not understand clearly. So seek a lawyer’s advice.

There is no reason that your project can not run fairly smoothly and you can avoid costly problems. But you have to take care, do it step by step and follow all the normal procedures. Many times problems occur because for some reason people come to Thailand and disregard the laws, regulations and think they can do it the way they want to, or maybe ignore the process. It is a mistake and can cost you dearly.  So do it correctly and reduce the problems that can occur by doing it the wrong way. Good luck with the project. It can be a most enjoyable process if done right.

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