A Thai usufruct is a document that provides temporary ownership rights to use or leverage the benefits of Thai property belonging to another person. A usufruct proves beneficial for many foreigners in Thailand who want to purchase a house or enjoy the use of land.

Depending on the way it is structured, a Thai usufruct acts like a life-estate future interest or 99-year lease according to the American Property Law. Here we are only going to discuss about delaings with Thai property law whose regulations are quite different.

A Thai usufruct allows the person retaining the usufruct in another's property in Thailand to enjoy the use of that land for a term of their natural life in Thailand. In other words, the person with a lifetime Thai usufruct obtains the same responsibilities and privileges as the owner of the property in Thailand, except the right to transfer the land to heirs.

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About Usufruct

  • The Thai usufruct does not give the title to the property nor does it give the right to sell or consume the Thai property to the usufructuary.
  • It is the responsibility of the usufructuary to take proper care of the property as if he would take care of his own property.
  • The usufructuary CANNOT transfer the right of the usufruct, but under the usufruct can transfer the exercise of his right to another person.
  • The usufruct cannot be transferred by inheritance.
  • Sections 1417 to 1428 Civil and Commercial Code govern the regulations of usufruct.

A Thai usufruct can be obtained for property in Thailand by both Thai nationals and foreigners. A Thai usufruct can be more beneficial for the foreigners who are looking for property in Thailand as it will provide the highest degree of insurance as under the Thai Civil and Commercial Code, a foreigner is not allowed to purchase land except in the case of purchasing a condo in Thailand. Due to the fact that a Thai usufruct is not an ownership of land, the legal restrictions imposed on the foreigners are negligible.

Generally, a Thai usufructs lasts for 30 years, however, a natural person, either a foreigner or a Thai national, has the right to a lifetime Thai usufruct as per the regulations under the Thai usufruct agreement. This greatly benefits the foreigners in Thailand for if they have a home in Thailand, they can live, enjoy the home and the surrounding land for their natural lifetime. However, one drawback to this is that, according to the Thai law, the Thai usufruct terminates upon the death of the original Thai usufruct holder.

Even after the termination of the Thai usufruct upon the death of the holder in Thailand, a lease of a usufruct can be obtained in Thailand and this Thai lease will be enforceable even if the owner of the Thai usufruct who granted the Thai lease dies. Hence, one can obtain a Thai lease on a lifetime usufruct, only if it is duly registered with the Thai land office, and that the lease shall have full consent of the underlying property owner in Thailand despite the fact that the Thai usufruct has been terminated upon the death of the lifetime Thai usufruct holder.