BANGKOK — Foreigners may be able to actually own land in Thailand – even if it’s just temporary.
Speaking on Thursday night at an estate trade event, finance minister Apisak Tantivorawong said his ministry is studying a way to grant foreigners 50-year leases to Thai land, though the actual plot owners would still need to be Thai nationals.
Under Thai law, foreigners cannot own land. In practice, many foreigners resort to using Thai proxies, often established through private companies, to own land or homes on their behalf, which can prove legally precarious when disputes arise.
Atip Bhijanonda, chairman of the developers association which hosted Thursday’s event, praised the finance ministry’s proposal. He urged the government to go a big step farther and allow foreigners to actually buy and own lands in their own name.
“Thai people are strange. When they send their children to study abroad, they buy houses for their kids,” Atip said. “But when foreigners come here, invest here and give their money to us, we don’t let them have their own homes. This is selfish thinking.”
Thursday’s proposal, if implemented, would allow foreigners to lease land in their own name for half a century.
Apisak hoped the policy would rekindle the kingdom’s real estate boom, as demand for land would potentially pour in from around the world.
Atip, the housing association chairman, said the proposal is a “correct idea.” Thai law allows foreigners to lease factories and commercial buildings for 50 years, yet they can only lease houses and residential buildings for 30 years, and the discrepancy doesn’t make sense, Atip said.
Update: Atip of the developers association said the 49 percent rule regarding how many condominiums in a project can be foreign-owned was not discussed at the event.