Condo in Thailand and inheritance
Foreign ownership of a condo in Thailand is under condominium laws an individual right of the foreigner who qualified under condominium laws for ownership. Once foreign ownership is obtained it is not freely transferable between foreigners (not even by inheritance) and the land registry only allows registration of ownership to another foreigner if he is eligible for ownership pursuant to section 19 of the Condominium Act.
Note this article is about foreign ownership in a registered and with the Land Department licensed condominium in Thailand and not about inheritance of a leasehold unit or about holiday apartments having no condominium license or registration read more...
qualitative restriction on foreign ownership
Section 19 (first paragraph) of the Condominium Act gives the following foreign natural or juristic persons the right to register ownership of a condominium unit:
- (1) foreigners permitted to have residence in the Kingdom under the Immigration law;
- (2) foreigners permitted to enter into the Kingdom under the investment promotion law;
- (3) Juristic persons as provided in Section 97 and 98 of the Land Code and registered as juristic persons under Thai law;
- (4) Juristic persons which are foreign under the Announcement of the National Executive Council No.281 dated November 24, B.E. 2515 (i.e. foreign business act) and have obtained promotion certificate under investment promotion law;
- (5) foreigners or juristic persons regarded by law as foreign who have brought in foreign currency into the Kingdom or withdraw money from Thai baht account of the person who have residence outside the Kingdom or withdraw money from a foreign currency account.
The above foreigners are allowed to register ownership of a condominium unit as long as the unit falls within the foreign ownership quota as described in section 19 bis of the Condominium Act.
quantitative restriction on foreign ownership
Section 19 bis of the Condominium Act:
'Each condominium shall have aliens or corporate as indicated under Section 19 holding ownership in the units collectively not exceeding forty-nine percents (49%) of the spaces of the whole units in such particular condominium at the time of making the registration of such condominium in accordance with Section 6.'
The above quantitative restriction in the Condominium Act limits the number of units in a condominium building open to foreign ownership. Foreigners eligible under section 19 (first paragraph) can only register ownership when foreign ownership is available in the condominium.
Inheritance of an apartment by foreigners
When ownership of an apartment unit in a condominium in Thailand is obtained most foreigners assume that when they die ownership of the condo can be given to their children or other foreign relatives. This is not true. Condominium ownership laws specify that any foreigner successor must again personally qualify for ownership of the unit. The Condominium Act deals with foreign inheritance in the sections 19 under 5 and 7. Section 19-5 refers to eligible foreigners qualified under section 19 and section 19-7 deals with foreigners who are not qualified for ownership under section 19 Condominium Act.
Eligible foreign successors
Section 19 Quinque (5) Condominium Act:
The foreign eligible natural or juristic person as provided in Section 19 shall dispose of apartment in the following cases:
'When the alien or juristic person stipulated in Section 19 (foreigner qualified for ownership) has acquired an apartment unit by legacy in the capacity of statutory heir or inheritor under will or by other means (e.g. gift) as the case may be, and when included the apartment already held by aliens or juristic persons stipulated in Section 19 exceeding the ratio prescribed in the first paragraph of section 19 bis.'
The above section simply refers to a situation where the foreigner is eligible for foreign ownership but transfer of ownership would exceed the foreign ownership ratio of the condominium. For example when a Thai national leaves a condo unit to a foreigner qualified for ownership under section 19 first paragraph but the foreign ownership quota in the condominium is already filled up. In this case it is required that the unit shall be disposed of by the foreigner within 1 year of acquisition.
If the foreigner fails to dispose of the unit, the Director-General of Land Department shall have power to sell the condominium unit on the foreigner's behalf.
Ineligible for registration of foreign ownership
Section 19 septum (7)
'An alien or juristic person regarded by law as alien other than those specified in section 19 who acquires an apartment by inheritance as statutory heir or legatee or otherwise, as such case may be, shall notify in writing the Competent Official (land registry) within a period of sixty days from the date of acquisition of ownership of apartment, and shall dispose of such apartment within a period of not exceeding one year from the date of acquisition of ownership of apartment. If disposition is not made within said period, the provisions of the fourth paragraph of Section 19 quinque shall apply mutatis mutandis.'
The above refers to any situation in where the foreigner does not qualify for ownership under section 19 first paragraph. Any ineligible foreigner who acquired a condominium unit by inheritance must notify the local land registry within 60 days from the acquisition date and shall dispose the unit within 1 year of the date ownership was acquired.
When the foreigner fails to dispose of the unit the Director-General of the Land Department is authorized to dispose of the unit and retain a fee of 5% of the sale price before any deductions or taxes.
In practice the requirement of selling the unit within one year of the date of acquisition by inheritance is not strictly enforced and in practice it will happen that the unit remains on the name of the deceased foreigner for more than one year. Someone, like the condominium manager or juristic person, will have to take action to start proceedings. When ownership of the unit by a foreign successor is desired he should contact the local land registry for possible solutions and procedures how to become eligible for ownership.
In any case, legal representation by a local attorney with connections at the land registry is recommended.