In general, non-Thai business and citizens are not permitted to own land in Thailand unless the land is on government-approved industrial estates However, companies that are more than 50% Thai-owned may legally own land An exception to the rule relates to projects approved by the Board of Investment. A promoted company with 50% or more of the shares held by foreigner may apply for the land ownership by submitting the appropriate form to the office of Board of Investment (OBOI). Once the land acquisition is approved, the OBOI will send a letter of approval to the applicant and will notify the Department of Land or the provincial governor.
In addition to projects approved by the Board of Investment, petroleum concessionaires may own land necessary for their activities.
Under the 1999 amendment to the Land Code, foreigners who invest a minimum of Baht 40 million are permitted to buy up to 1,600 square meters of land for residential use, with the permission of the Ministry of Interior. An investor has to maintain the investment more than 5 years.
Foreigners are also permitted to own buildings on land that is leased, because there are no restrictions on building ownership. Foreigner can, thus, lease land and build on it and are permitted to own the structure.
Foreign individuals and foreign companies are allowed to hold title to condominium units in building that qualify. The rule is that foreigner may own no more than 49% of the total units in the building at any one time. If the proposed transfer would cause the building to exceed 49% foreign ownership it would violate the above rule, and the official would reject the transfer.
Although Thailand does not yet have a requirement for an escrow account to protect the interests of the purchaser of properties, an escrow account may be voluntarily entered into by the contracting parties under the Escrow Act of May 21, 2008. Only commercial banks and finance companies under the law governing financial institutional business, and banks established under a specific law may operate as escrow agents. By placing the agreement deposits into escrow accounts, the purchaser can decrease risks. A new condominium Act significantly protects the interest of the buyers.
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