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Why do I need my lawyers to check Land Title / Land Status history?

Land and law is unique in many jurisdictions, and that includes Thailand.

You should not assume that any aspect of law relating to land is similar to your home country jurisdiction.

In order to understand why a land title search is important, the following non-exhaustive key points are relevant:

1. All land types in Thailand are capable of being revoked. This means that even the ‘best’ land title can be ‘taken back’ if it is found to be illegal. The best land title is ‘Chanote’ which if originating from illegal practices can be investigated and revoked under the revocation provisions of the Land Code.

Therefore, it is very important to check the history of land.

2. Sometimes developers buy what they think is ‘good land’ and then discover part or all of it has land title issues. Then these issues may be hidden or concealed or not obvious on the face of initial inspection.

3. The shape of land in reality can be different to the shape of the land on the land title papers. IT is important to commission a survey to check this, to establish if land is ‘missing’ or if there is ‘encroachment’ into National Park, National Forestry Reserve or neighbouring land.

4. You might think there is access from the public road to the land, but maybe there is a ‘gap’ or an intervening issue affecting access

5. There may be a history of ‘upgrades’ of the land showing incomplete or technically incorrect surveys or strange very large increases in land size upon upgrades and re-measurement of the land boundaries.

6. The original ‘possessory’ origins of the land may not be properly explained or link to the evolution of land titles from its origins.

Land must have come into existence somehow, and that process must be legal. There are various methods by which land title can come to exist in Thailand but the most common is the possessory title ‘Sor Kor 1 (SK1)’ being notified to the Land Department by the possessor(s) in order to survey and issue a form of utilisation or ownership document. If there are issues relating to the origin of the title, or the history is missing, this can represent a ‘defect’ on the title.

7. Many Thai banks will not look into the history of land as extensively as a private investor would. This is also unusual because in many jurisdictions a bank will conduct rigorous checks on land title unless the title is ‘guaranteed’ by the state. In Thailand, there is no ‘state guarantee’ of land title per se. Therefore, if a bank issue a loan against land, this does not lead to the absolute conclusion that the land is legal or its title has been issued properly.

It is not possible to check these matters by a simple review of papers at the Land Department. Qualified competent Thai lawyers should be engaged to search and identify all relevant papers, this should be analysed, placed into a report and then reviewed by partners.

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