The Right of Habitation
In addition to lease in Thailand, usufructs and superficies, Thai law provides another specialized type of legal property rights that may be of interest to some foreigners living in Thailand. The right of habitation (arsai) entitles the recipient to live in a building rent free for a period of time up to 30 years or for life. While the right of habitation is more restricted in many ways than lease, usufruct and superficies rights, it may be granted free of charge.
The right of habitation is regulated under sections 1402-1409 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code. Like lease, usufruct and superficies rights, the right of habitation must be registered at the Land Office to be valid and enforceable. The right of habitation will be recorded on the title deed and encumber the property until the right expires.
The right of habitation may be granted for a period of time up to 30 years and is renewable, but not inheritable or transferable. The renewal may be for another period of up to 30 years and will necessarily expire if the recipient dies. The right of habitation may also be granted for the life of the recipient. If no set time period is defined in the document granting the right of habitation, it may be revoked at any time with reasonable notice to the recipient. The property must be returned to the landlord at the recipient’s death or the expiration of the right of habitation.
Even though the right of habitation is not transferable, the recipient’s family members and household may live with him or her unless this is expressly forbidden in the right-granting document. In addition, the recipient may use fruits and products of the land that are necessary for household needs unless expressly forbidden. However, unlike a lease, the landlord has no duty to maintain the property and has no right to claim reimbursements for maintenance or improvements made to the property.
The recipient of the right of habitation has most of the same duties and liabilities as a leaseholder except for the duty to pay rent. For example, the recipient must maintain the property and do repairs, allow access to the landowner and his or her agents, inform the landowner of encroachments and danger to the property, and only make alterations to the property with permission.
The right of habitation gives the recipient the right to use a building as a home, thus, unlike lease, usufruct and superficies it is not appropriate for commercial use. In addition, because the right of habitation is not transferable it is inappropriate for investment purposes. However, if you are looking for a place to live and can come to an agreement with a landlord to occupy a home rent-free, the right of habitation may be the best format for documenting your agreement. This may be especially useful for foreigners with Thai family members or close friends who want to allow the foreigner to live at a property without charging rent. Unlike a lease, a right of habitation does not require rent to be paid to the landlord. In fact, a right of habitation is rent-free by definition.
A Thai spouse may wish to grant a foreign spouse a right of habitation to the marital home by will so that the foreign spouse may continue living in the home if ownership of the property must be transferred to someone else.
If you and a Thai property owner are looking for the best legal agreement to protect your rights to a piece of property, you should consult with the professionals at Siam Legal to determine the best legal arrangement for you.
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Siam Legal is an international law firm with experienced lawyers, attorneys, and solicitors both in Thailand law and international law. This Thailand law firm offers comprehensive legal services in Thailand to both local and foreign clients for Litigation such as civil & criminal cases, labor disputes, commercial cases, divorce, adoption, extradition, fraud, and drug cases. Other legal expertise of the law firm varied in cases involving corporate law such as company registration & Thailand BOI, family law, property law, and private investigation.