Tag Archive: bangkok

  1. Leasehold vs Usufruct for Foreigners

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    Properties in Thailand do not serve only as investment assets but also as residences and business premises, attracting both locals and foreigners.  

    While Thai law still restricts foreigners from owning certain estates in Thailand, ownership is not the sole means of leveraging property in Thailand. Thai legal framework offers various alternatives for individuals, including foreigners, to exploit the property’s potential regardless of the ownership. This flexibility allows foreigners to derive significant benefits from properties, with a prime example being land, which they are prohibited from owning but can lease. 


    The Thai Civil and Commercial Code governs property leasing in Sections 537 to 571. Leasehold is one of the prominent methods to acquire property in Thailand as a foreigner.   

    A leasehold is recognized for its characteristics as a long-term legal structure. Section 540 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code states that the long-term time frame would run up to a maximum of thirty years and may be renewed for another thirty years. Nonetheless, if such land is used for commercial purposes, it may be leased for up to fifty years and renewed for another fifty years.    

    There are a few steps that the lessee needs to comply with in order to successfully register the lease and get the most advantage of the leasehold. Section 538 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code has set forth the key requirements: it must be made in writing and registered with the competent official at the land office; otherwise, it will only be enforceable for three years. Apart from the benefit of long-term use, there are other significant characteristics the lessee would acquire.  

    After the lease is registered, the lessee would have full rights over such property; however, the lessee is only allowed to use such property for the purpose that is agreed in the contract. Any other use, such as subletting, would require the lessor’s consent. Therefore, an action excluded from either party’s scope would be considered a breach of contract. Despite the leasehold rights over such property, the lessee must be aware that the lessor still holds the right to put such property for sale or into mortgage; if this were the case, the lessee’s rights would not be affected and would remain the same. 

    Moreover, the lessor and the lessee may agree that the right to lease shall be inheritable. The Thai Supreme Court Judgement no.11058/2559 has affirmed and ruled regarding the inheritance of the right to lease.  

    Due to the low legal threshold, leasehold became a commonly used method among individuals, particularly foreigners, who want to fully enjoy the property apart from having ownership. 



    On the other hand, Thai law provides an alternative choice from a lease with slightly different characteristics. It is known as usufruct and is set forth under Section 1417 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code. Usufruct has become one of the main alternatives to leasehold for individuals who want to benefit from a property other than having ownership. This means the beneficiary, recognized as the usufructuary, will only have the right to possess the property. Similarly to leasehold, the period when the usufructuary can benefit from the property can be agreed upon between the parties; however, the main difference is that the usufructuary does not have a maximum usage period. It can be arranged to lead up to the lifetime of the usufructuary without a need for renewal, which makes it less complicated than a leasehold. 

    Even though usufruct enables the usufructuary to benefit from such property for a lifetime period, still, the usufructuary may only benefit from the existing property that is registered for usufruct while rights to alter, demolish, or change any substance of the property are prohibited unless it has been consented by the owner. A primary example would be where the usufructuary can lease out the property without seeking prior consent from the owner. 

    Although the property owner would have more privilege than the usufructuary, Thai law has implemented a regulation to prevent any default regarding the prevailing ownership. It is provided that any transaction that would create encumbrance due to usufruct would require the consent of all the parties. For example, if the property owner wishes to sell such property, the approval of the usufructuary would also count as a requirement of such a sale. This would also give the usufructuary the right to prevent the property owner from selling or mortgaging such property.  

    Even though the usufruct can be agreed upon for a lifetime, such a right is deemed a personal right that is not inheritable. It must terminate with the death of the usufructuary or when it reaches the expiration term as agreed upon by both parties.   

    The chart below provides an overview of the above-mentioned two legal structures: 


    Due to the numerous advantages, leasehold, and usufruct stand out as favored approaches that allow foreigners to unlock the potential use of property in Thailand. These benefits make them valuable tools for individuals seeking to benefit from the property for an extended period despite not having ownership.  

    Nevertheless, it is still critical to consider that each method has limitations, and it may not serve the needs in every case. It is crucial to carefully assess the most suitable option to ensure the desired utilization of the property. 

    Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding leasehold or usufruct at [email protected] 

    Fabian Doppler Connect with me on LinkedIn

    Fabian, a founding partner of FRANK Legal & Tax, is a German-trained lawyer with expertise in corporate/commercial and real estate law, and litigation, and has been living and working in Thailand since 2005.

  2. Short-term rental businesses via online platforms in Thailand

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    As the economy recovers from the COVID-19 crisis, Thailand is again attracting more and more tourists to the country. Visitor numbers are increasing, and short-term rental businesses through platforms such as Airbnb, including daily rentals via other online platforms, are gradually becoming more popular, encouraging villa and apartment owners to set up short-term rentals to allow tourists to stay in their properties.

    Problematically, however, properties in Thailand are generally not allowed to be rented out for less than 30 days unless you have a hotel license, while condominium units are restricted to being used for short-term rentals under Thai Condominium laws.

    In our experience, acting contrary to these requirements may constitute a criminal offense under Thai law.

    Online rental platform – what is it?

    An online rental platform is an online marketplace for travelers looking for accommodation, for example, Airbnb, Agoda, or Booking.com. The groundbreaking model allowing private landlords to host vacationers and business travelers has effectively transformed the digital platform into the “world’s largest hotel”.

    Online rental platform’s legal status is still uncertain

    Online rental platforms continue to face massive criticism for being major competitors to regular hotel and accommodation businesses. Hotel owners are not pleased about declining revenues while continuing to pay the overhead costs for their properties. As a result, they view online rental platforms such as the Airbnb model as an unacceptable hardship. As a result, like other countries, Thailand has imposed restrictions against Airbnb and its operations.

    For condominiums

    We have to be focused on two Acts, the Condominium Act B.E. 2522 (1979) (the “Condominium Act”) and the Hotel Act B.E. 2547 (2004) (the “Hotel Act”).

    The Condominium Act, section 17/1 paragraph 2 states that no person shall be permitted to operate their business in the condominium except for the provided specific area of the condominium building. This regulation applies to short-term rentals via an online platform.

    Another concern is the Hotel Act. Under the Hotel Act, the definition of “hotel” is a lodging premise established for commercial purposes to provide temporary accommodation to a traveler or any person for consideration. Therefore, a monthly rental or more is exempt from the definition of temporary accommodation of the Hotel Act.

    Section 1336 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code (“CCC”) states that the unit owner can enjoy his rights over his property if it does not disturb others. However, the Condominium Act, which governs the usage of the condominium unit, prohibits the condominium owner from using his condominium unit for short-term rental.

    For house

    Regarding landed property, the related piece of legislation is the Hotel Act which is, in principle, the same as for the condominium unit, which restricts the usage to short-term rental, except if such house owners have a hotel license. If the house owner has more than 4 rooms and is entitled to hold more than 20 occupants at a time, the property owner is entitled to apply for a hotel license to operate a short-term rental legally.

    On the other hand, the house owner is entitled to apply for the non-hotel license if the property has fewer than 4 rooms and cannot hold more than 20 tourists at a time but still wants to operate a short-term rental. The owner has to apply for a non-hotel license. This will allow a short-term rental of a house to be valid and legal.

    There are some specific requirements for each type of license. For example, for a non-hotel license, the owner must be a Thai national. Foreigners or juristic persons may not apply for this type of license. The reasoning behind this rule is to increase local people’s income, who could use their houses as accommodation for tourists as their additional main income source. The hotel license has stricter requirements than non-hotel licenses, such as hotels may not be located near historical sites, and entrance to the hotel must not cause traffic problems. Moreover, before applying for a hotel license, the building must also comply with the Building Control Act B.E. 2522. The regulation stipulates many more obligations for the applicant to comply with.


    The legality of online short-term rental platforms in Thailand is still up in the air. The condominium is not allowed to rent on a daily or weekly basis. However, this is not a general rule, and it depends on whether each condominium regulation allows it.

    In order to legally operate a short-term rental business, the house owner requires a hotel or a non-hotel license, as the case may be, subject to the Hotel Act. A house with fewer than 4 rooms and 20 occupants maximum shall obtain a non-hotel license; however, a house with more than 4 rooms and more than 20 occupants in the building must obtain a hotel license.

    Thus, the legal status of online short-term rental platforms is still unknown as there is no clear answer by government authorities whether it is possible to do or not. 

    If you have any questions related to property in Thailand, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

  3. Buying a House in Thailand – Handover Checklist

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    When the owner of residential property changes, the last step after the visit to the land office and the receipt of the money is crucial: the handover of the keys; after this, the previous owner moves out, and the buyer moves in. At this point, all documents are handed over, a joint tour of the house is made, and meter readings and defects are noted. It makes sense to draw up a protocol for the handover of possession so that the sale of the house does not have any repercussions. We have summarized what you should pay attention to, based on our experience, in the house handover protocol.

    Summary of the most important things to remember in a handover:

    As with a condominium, a house is handed over at an agreed time after the purchase contract has been signed, usually only after the money has been received.

    The handover occurs under the agreed conditions, typically in a “bought as seen” condition.

    Before the keys are handed over, the buyer and seller tour the property together.

    Defects are noted in the handover protocol, including the “to do” list, who will take care of these, and by what date.

    It also lists all the previous owner’s documents to be handed over to the new owner.

    The handover protocol may also be referred to as the takeover protocol, as meter readings are recorded, and it is noted which inventory/furniture is being taken over.

    The buyer and seller sign the handover protocol, and witnesses present also sign if necessary.

    The goal of a handover protocol for a house or condominium is a smooth transition without legal disputes. It protects both sides: for example, the buyer can claim unlisted, missing, or required documents from the seller. If defects occur after the handover, which the seller neither concealed nor is responsible for, he does not have to pay for these to be resolved.

    What should be included in a house handover protocol?

    A good handover protocol checklist includes:

    1. Names and contact details of the parties
    2. Time of the inspection
    3. Property data (address, last renovation, service charges paid until)
    4. Meter readings (heating, electricity, water meters)
    5. Furniture/inventory per room
    6. Defects – including the basement, attic, garage, outdoor areas such as the garden, etc. Examples include a crack on a wall, a leaking roof, and faucets not working. A record is taken of who will remove the defects, by when, and at whose expense.
    1. Repairs that have already been ordered or are still being paid for by the previous owner.
    2. The number of keys from the mailbox to the tool shed.
    3. A list of the documents handed over.

      Of particular importance are:

    • Building description
    • Building plans, floor plans, sketches, and static calculations
    • Building insurance
    • Property tax assessment
    • Craftsmen’s invoices (especially relatively recent, larger ones)
    • Inspection records (especially fireplace inspections by the chimney sweep)
    • Operating manuals for building services/heating etc.
    • In the case of condominiums, the minutes of the last three owners’ meetings and the declaration of division should also be included.
    • Place, date, and signature of all who are present*.
    • *Optional: If witnesses accompany you during the handover, name them in the handover protocol and have them sign.

    For more information about our real estate services please visit www.franklegaltax.com/services/real-estate/
    If you have any questions related to property transfers or real estate in Thailand, please contact [email protected]

    Fabian, a founding partner of FRANK Legal & Tax, is a German-trained lawyer with expertise in corporate/commercial and real estate law, and litigation, and has been living and working in Thailand since 2005.

  4. Seminar on BOI promotion with a full house of Bangkok business professionals

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    FRANK Legal & Tax hosted a seminar on BOI Promotion for Tech Startups, attended by a full house of businesspeople working in the tech and digital sectors in Bangkok.

    The event provided an opportunity to explore BOI promotion related to the tech industry in Thailand and gave insights into the various BOI categories that are relevant to IT, software development and tech business.

    The audience asked a number of questions based on their own experiences of planning or trying to pursue BOI promotion in Thailand.

    The event was a success, drawing attention to the importance of the rule of law in doing business in Thailand, and raising awareness of the ways in which business people in Bangkok can take advantage of BOI promotion.

    FRANK Legal & Tax looks forward to continuing events related to important legal issues and we welcome any questions you may have about doing business in Thailand by contacting us at [email protected]

  5. Seminar on BOI Promotion for Tech Startups, Bangkok, 21 August 2019

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    Starting a Business in Thailand is much easier when the Board of Investment (BOI) promotes you. Our next event will provide an opportunity to explore the BOI promotions related to the tech industry in Thailand. Our experienced Lawyers will be starting with a big-picture view of foreign business licensing in Thailand, which will be followed by insights into the various BOI categories that are relevant to IT, software development and tech business. In addition, our Managing Partner, Fabian Doppler will briefly discuss the legal process for start-ups in Thailand.

    Register here

    The admission fee will include:

    • Presentation by our experienced lawyers
    • Possibility to ask questions
    • A fine selection of high-quality finger food
    • Free beverage

    Our Speakers:

    Fabian Doppler – Managing Partner

    Fabian Doppler is a founding partner of FRANK Legal & Tax, Bangkok. He focuses his practice on corporate and commercial law, as well as real estate law, advising clients on a number of regulatory, compliance and transactional matters. He has developed a specialty in providing advice in the areas of corporate legal structuring, licensing and contract negotiations for foreign direct investment in Thailand. He counsels discerning corporate clients at C-level, from the point of planning the market entry and support in the operational phase through to successful resolutions of legal disputes.

    Rangsarit Suwanarat – Specialist Corporate law

    Rangsarit Suwanarat is a Thai attorney with more than four years of litigation experience and more than three years of corporate experience. He has represented individuals and juristic person clients in civil cases and represented a foreign company in a rehabilitation case at Thai Bankruptcy Court. Mr. Suwanarat supports company registrations for Thai and foreign clients, trademark registrations, applies for foreign business licenses, juristic person life insurance, brokerage license as well as applies for Board of Investment Promotion. He has developed a specialty in contract drafting and providing advice on taxation

    The meeting will be on August 21, 2019 at 6.30pm at the Novotel Bangkok Ploenchit Sukhumvit, 566 Phloen Chit Rd, Lumphini, Bangkok 10330 (see Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/UuPgNhKgBmN2)

    FRANK Legal & Tax regularly hold public events, designed to support the business community in Bangkok.

  6. Starting a business in Thailand: Upcoming Bangkok Event

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    FRANK Legal & Tax will be holding another of our regular free events, designed to support the business community in Bangkok.

    The upcoming event will provide an opportunity to explore the topic of starting a business in Thailand. Starting a new business can be both exciting and challenging, particularly in a foreign country. By attending our workshop, you will acquaint yourself with the legal procedures for opening a business in Thailand and be more familiar with the programs and opportunities available throughout the Kingdom. Please register using the form on this page.

    In addition, Partner Fabian Doppler will briefly discuss the legal process for start-ups in Thailand.

  7. Bangkok Property Market Performs Strongly in 2017

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    In Q4 2017, the Bangkok condominium market grew steadily, particularly in the downtown area of the city. The number of new properties launched in 2017 overall also grew year on year by, with a 51% increase compared to 2016. Bangkok’s condominium market is likely to continue to grow in the future, given the many new mass transit lines and pipelines under construction (for example the MRT Pink Line, MRT Yellow Line and MRT Orange Line).

    Land prices and the lack of remaining downtown new development space has opened the way for new locations to become up and coming property hotspots. Projects that are in prime or new locations with appropriate pricing to compliment market demand continued to performed well.

    Due to the high proportion of units from projects that have been sold and that have been completed since 2014 in the downtown area, there does not currently appear to be a risk of oversupply in the area. Increasing land costs are a central factor that has resulted in price increases. More projects are opening up in new areas due to the construction of the approaching transport connections.

    During the past one to two years, the average selling price of new condominium units has continued to rise at approximately 15–20% annually. Condominium prices are expected to increase similarly next year, particularly in in the downtown area.

    Expatriates work permits in Bangkok increased 1.3% Quarter on Quarter and 3.1% Year on Year. Typically, expatriates have favoured certain areas and this continues to be the case, particularly the Sukhumvit, Silom/Sathorn and Central Lumpini areas, due to their easy access to the BTS Skytrain, along with convenient shopping and dining options.

  8. Court revokes EIA report on luxury Bangkok project

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    The Central Administrative Court has ruled against an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report of a high-end condominium development in the Bangkok Lumpini area, because it did not comply with the building control law and related regulations. The lawsuit was comprised of a group of 23 people and four agencies including the committee on building, land allocation and community service and the Office of Environment Policy and Planning.

    The court said the EIA report for the Mahadlek Residences Condominium project had been unlawfully permitted by a committee of specialists responsible for reviewing the report. The court ruled that the approval was unlawful and the ruling would take effect retroactively from April 3, 2014.

    In January, the Central Administrative Court withheld the project’s construction license. The license was distributed by City Hall’s Department of Public Works to the Office of the Privy Purse to construct the 41-storey condominium.

    The court said the Office of the Privy Purse is not a corporation, but a “unit” under the Bureau of the Royal Household with no power to pursue a license. This right is reserved for corporate companies.

    No project unit has been sold to the public yet, TFD CEO Apichai Taecahubol said.

    If you would like any legal help with your property purchase, please contact us: [email protected]

  9. FRANK Legal & Tax on MeetUp

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    FRANK Legal & Tax is pleased to announce that we have started a “MeetUp” group. The Group aims to to create a forum for entrepreneurs and business start-ups where information can be obtained and ideas can be exchanged.

    To see our profile and join, visit:
    Our MeetUp events are planned to take place on a regular basis once a month.

    Please feel free to come along!


    Frank Meetup event bangkok


  10. Opening a bank account without a work permit at Bangkok Bank

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    On a more practical note, clients often ask us for assistance with opening a personal bank account in Thailand. Such an account offers a lot of benefits, but many foreigners, who are only visiting Thailand for a relatively short period of time, have faced problems with meeting the bank’s requirements. Most banks ask for a business visa and a work permit, even for the setting up a simple savings account. But a few banks are more flexible than that. For example, foreigners can open a savings account at Bangkok Bank, which is one of the major Thai banks, and apply for additional services such as Debit Card, ATM and Internet Banking, by holding tourist visa only and without holding a work permit.

    At Bangkok Bank, currently the documents that you need to provide are

    1. your passport,
    2. one further official identification document, such as a reference letter from your embassy, your home bank or another person acceptable to the bank.
    3. your address in Thailand as well as your regular address in your home country.

    Please feel free to contact us if you require assistance with handling your banking matters in Thailand.