If you are considering purchasing a condo in Thailand, usually you will think about the location, the view, the size of the unit and whether you like the way it looks. But you also need to be aware of the rights and responsibilities of condo owners. This was the topic of Shayachon (Rose) Yangpreeda, who spoke to the Pattaya City Expats Club at their meeting on December 11.
As a facilitator in real estate matters, Shayachon (Rose) Yangpreeda provides assistance to condominium owners, Juristic Persons, and condominium committees. She is very familiar with Thailand’s Condominium Act and the respective responsibilities of the parties involved.
She started her presentation by stating clearly that she was not a lawyer; that her advice and comments will be based on her experience as an interpreter and problem-solver in matters involving real estate. She has found that it is all-too-easy for there to be misunderstandings between a farang client and a Thai lawyer whose English may be less than perfect. She has helped many foreigners sort out misunderstandings with their own lawyers and Thai courts.
She warned that the real estate industry in Thailand is comparatively unregulated and so buyers need to be careful, especially if they are buying off the plan (development not yet completed). Further, that if you are buying a condo in a development that is “off the plan”, you should make sure that you are dealing with a reputable developer before you put down a deposit. The most common problem people encounter with developers is that they do not deliver on what they promise.
She cautioned against accepting the developer’s advice or offer of legal services; but suggested that any contract should be reviewed by a lawyer of your choosing. She suggested that a purchaser may like to use some of the money they are saving by buying a condominium that is “off the plan”, you should consult with a Thai lawyer of your choosing to vet the contract to ensure that the contract will require the developer to deliver on their promises. She said that you may wish to consult with someone like herself, who can offer advice about the developer’s reputation and can suggest an experienced lawyer in real estate matters that you may wish to consult.
Rose suggested that prospective buyers also should consider the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a condo in your name, in company name, or in the name of your Thai partner. She explained that there are four types of property deeds. The two most common are the Chanote and the Nor Sor Kor. The other two types are best avoided. She also pointed out that the Government of Thailand is becoming stricter about allowing foreigners to set up Thai companies for the sole purpose of owning property.
She also pointed out the many laws and regulations affecting condo ownership. At the top of the list comes the Constitution of Thailand. The list also includes the Condominium Act B.E. 2551; various codes that govern building construction and related matters; Royal ordinances; Royal emergency decrees; Supreme Court decisions (Administrative Court and Constitutional Court); ministerial regulations; and provincial regulations, orders and announcements.
Rose gave several examples of when things can go painfully wrong: like when the person selling you the condo turns out not to be the legitimate owner! And how the developer and even individual owners and real estate agents can do things to intimidate you. For example, she said, if someone makes a complaint against you with the police as a form of intimidation, and even if the police consider it frivolous, that person can hire their own lawyer and press charges, both civil and criminal, with the Thai courts. In addition, once you land in court, the onus will be on you to prove your innocence. She mentioned one case where the original charges were dismissed but then a second charge of defamation of character was laid.
She advised that if you get involved in court proceedings, you may need a translator to understand what is going on and to assist you in dealing with your lawyer. She pointed out that not all lawyers have a good command of English, but will smile and say yes when you consult with them about your legal case. She cited one example where it was the lawyer that called her in to translate his court filings with his English-speaking client. In this case the client asked “What is this? This is not my case.” She said it was obvious that the lawyer had misunderstood the client when he brought him his case. However, at this point it was too late to change the assertions made to the Court by the lawyer on behalf of his client. She suggested that having a good translator that is also familiar with legal proceedings to assist you up front when retaining a Thai lawyer to pursue your case.
Upon conclusion of her presentation, she answered many questions from the audience. This was followed by MC Roy Albiston bringing everyone up to date on upcoming events and was followed by the Open Forum portion of the meeting where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya.
For more information on the PCEC’s many activities, visit their website at www.pcecclub.org.