What is a Thailand usufruct? Since foreigners cant buy land in Thailand some foreigners register a usufruct over the property while the land is owned by their Thai wife. There are a number of options in securing your rights and you will need to take proper legal advice from a property lawyer in Thailand as there are other options such as a leasehold agreement as well as superficies where you own the house in your name but not the land. Speak to a lawyer in Thailand about these options.
Firstly you will need to check the title deed of the property as certain title deeds cannot have a usufruct registered against them or for that matter a lease agreement. You would be looking for some with an unencumbered title deed and for this you will need to speak to a lawyer in Thailand about checking this before you buy the land in the name of your wife. The Thailand usufruct is explained further.
Usually a due diligence report or title deed search would cover most of your issues with the land before you register a usufruct over the land. The usufruct ensures that your rights a taken care of and that the owner cannot sell the land until the usufruct expires. This is one of the reasons why many expats decide to register a usufruct against the tittle deed of the land of their Thai wife.
The duration of the usufruct in Thailand is normally does for the lifetime of the usufructuary being you. The reason why many do this is so that when they die their Thai wife can still sell the property as nobody would buy the property with a usufruct registered over the property. This is something to consider. If you have not registered a usufruct over the property then you will need to consider the following when the Thailand usufruct is over the title of a person who you do not know:
- Payment for property taxes you will be paying for that as well as any cost to maintain the property
- The property owner can insist that you take insurance over the property
- You are not allowed to make any major changes to the property
- You need to keep the property in the condition you found it in
- You will be held responsible for costs if the property is damaged
There are of course issues should you die and your Thai wife living with you at that time does not own the property. Where would this leave her with the property owner? You need to consider this and speak to an attorney for legal advice if the property does not belong to your Thai wife. Most times the Thailand usufruct is used so that in the event of a divorce you are not left without a roof over your head as you cannot own the land in Thailand where you might have built your house on.
Note that a servitude is not the same as a usufruct as a usufruct normally cannot be inherited (See: leasehold agreements) whereas a servitude can be left in an estate to in a last will and testament. Property law in Thailand can be complex and it is always best to speak to a law firm in Thailand for more direction and also assistance with a Thailand usufruct.