Whether you are interested to buy or lease land in Thailand it is important to investigate the legal rights regarding the land you could receive by entering into an agreement. Thai law knows different land right classifications giving the beneficiary various levels of rights to land, ranging from occupation rights to full ownership rights.
As a potential buyer or lessee you should be aware of the fact that not all land rights grant a right to build a house on the land or can be even legally transferred. In this article we will review the land rights people may acquire in Thailand. We will review the different land classification rights in Thailand starting from the lesser rights up to full ownership rights.
What can you do with minor claims on land?
Minor claims on land are for example the Por. Tor. Bor. 5, the Nor. Sor. 2 and the Sor. Kor. 1. The Por. Tor. Bor. 5 is an evidence showing that the occupier of a land plot has been issued a tax number and has paid tax for using the benefit of the land. The issuance of Por. Tor. Bor. 5 is done without any survey by the authorities and grants no claim to the occupant. The document can be used as evidence towards proving possession against other private individuals, but not against the State. Another lesser claim is the Nor. Sor. 2. It serves to establish that the beneficiary has temporary rights to occupy the land. Nor. Sor. 2 certificates were issued on a transitional basis with the understanding that they would eventually be transformed into a certificate of use or full title ownership (please see below). If the respective land plot is under an evidence called Sor. Kor. 1 the holder of the document is entitled to occupy and utilize the land. The acquisition of a Sor. Kor. 1 is deemed the first step towards the issuance of a certificate of use or full title ownership (please see below). But still the Sor. Kor. 1 provides only a claim of ownership and not the right to ownership.
All lesser claims mentioned above have in common that no official permission to build a house may be granted on such land. Furthermore legally none of those documents are transferable except by inheritance. Only higher land rights will grant the right to build a house and are fully transferable. The highest claims on land are the Nor Sor Sam (NS-3) or certificate of utilization, the Nor Sor Sam Kor (NS-3K) or certified certificate of use and the Chanote (NS-4) claims.
What are the advantages of higher land rights?
The land title deeds Nor Sor Sam (NS-3) and Nor Sor Sam Kor (NS-3K) are legal land title certificates registered at and issued by the land department that show who has the right to possess the land and use the benefit of the land as an owner. Having such rights it is possible to register a lease, usufruct or sale at the land department. The name showing on such land title deed is the person who has the right to the land and has the legal right to possess the land. This right is recognized by law and can be used as evidence in any dispute.
The certificate of utilization or Nor Sor Sam (NS-3) shows that the owner has been granted the right to possess the land and use the benefit of the land as an owner, but these rights still have to be confirmed by the authorities. Despite the fact that the right is not yet confirmed, the law recognizes the right of possession of the NS-3 holder and the NS-3 may be used as evidence toward proving possession in any dispute. It can also be freely transferred and juristic acts may be registered on it. But as the right of possession evidenced by a NS-3 is not yet confirmed, any transaction or legal acts registered on a NS-3 must be published for 30 days to allow third parties to oppose the transaction.
The certified certificate of use or Nor. Sor. Sam Kor (NS-3K) is a certificate of possession as well. Like an NS-3, this document evidences the holder’s right to possess the land and obtain benefit from the land as an owner. But more than that, the NS-3K also evidences that the holder’s rights have been confirmed and certified by the authorities. As the right of use is confirmed, legal acts or transactions concerning the land do not need to be published. NS-3K claims have been more accurately surveyed than NS-3 and each plot of land is crossed referenced with a master survey of the area and a corresponding aerial photograph with points of reference on the map.
The Chanote title
Finally the Chanote title or Nor. Sor. 4 (NS-4) is the highest land title and mainly found in the more and longer developed areas of Thailand. Other than the land classification rights mentioned above the Chanote is the only land title deed certificate that offers full certified ownership of land. Land plots held under Chanotes are accurately surveyed and GPS plotted in relation to a national survey grid and marked by unique numbered marker posts set in the ground. Therefore Chanote titles are obviously the preferred title whether you buy or lease land in Thailand.
The Author of this article is Sebastian Kunz, Senior Associate at Limcharoen Hughes & Glanville (Phuket).
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This post was written by HKT Homes on February 23, 2011