Many foreigners when they retire in Thailand and want to buy a house they tend to buy the house and land. Note that in Thailand you can own the two separately under superficies. Most tend to buy the house and the land then places this in the name of their wife. Thai law does not allow a foreigner to own any land in Thailand except under certain circumstances.
The Condominium Act has a limitation that no more than 49% of the apartments or condo units may be owned by foreigners. If this goes over the limit what normally gets done is they place the condo unit in the name of their Thai wife or they register the condo unit in the name of a Thai company. You can do the same with the house but the land on which it stands may be another issue. note that if you buy a condo unit in the name of your registered Thai company and you live in it. The Thai government views it as a lease and you have to pay an annual rental tax on the unit as it is being leased to a director of the company.
Now back to the land issue and buying a house in your Thai wife’s name. You need to prove the following:
- The money comes from your wife and not from anyone else;
- Confirm that its personal property (Sin Suan Tua) and not a common property (Sin Som Ros).
Note that before when a Thai women married a foreigner she lost the right to buy or own land in Thailand. This law was changed on March 23, 1999 which allowed a Thai woman to own land again while married to a foreigner. Note that in a divorce the property as stated above which you will have to confirm at the Land Department yourself is personal property and not common property so that you have no claim to the land during a divorce. Many as stated above register a 30 year usufruct over the property in the event that their wife might die and they would have to leave the property. Speak to your attorney about this.
Since the property is not jointly owned marital realty property (section 1476) your spouse can sell, mortgage, transfer or exchange the property without the consent of the foreign spouse being you. This may create a problem hence the usufruct for added protection of your property rights in Thailand. In the event of death you could possibly inherit the land however that has never been tested in the Thai courts as yet and most prefer not too and to work around this. The law states that :
Section 93 of the Land Code Act: ‘A foreigner who acquires land by inheritance as statutory heir can have an ownership in such land upon permission of the Minister of Interior. However, the total plots of land shall not be exceeding of those specified in Section 87′.
As stated this has never been tested to the best of the writers knowledge and it is always best to speak to an attorney when planning for the future and look at usufructs, testaments and the options of setting up a Thai company for many of these issues. Laws do change and legal issue do get resulted however that may be far down the line.