The preferred land title in Thailand is the Chanote (which literally translates to "Title Deed") issued in accordance with the Land Act of 1954. Chanotes issued under the provisions of this Act are registered with the Land Department and state the ownership, boundaries, area measurements and encumbrances (such as mortgages or servitudes) with particularity. The purchaser of a Chanote is registered as the owner of the land with the Land Department at the time of transfer.
Chanotes are issued by the Land Department by application from the holder of a possessory right document for the land. There are three basic types of possessory right documents all of which are still in existence and many of which have yet to be upgraded to a Chanote. They are the Nor Sor 3 Gor, the Nor Sor 3, and the Sor Kor 1, however, occasionally other forms of possessory documents may be encountered as part of the historical record of a plot of land.
Of the three, the Nor Sor 3 Gor is the preferred. This document contains an accurate measurement of the land and boundaries (but not as accurate as a Chanote), along with verification of the utilization of the land in the past. A Nor Sor 3 is similar to the Nor Sor 3 Gor except that the measurements and boundaries of the Nor Sor 3 Gor are more accurate. Further, a Nor Sor 3 requires a 30-day public notice period before the transfer whereas these changes can be registered with a Nor Sor 3 Gor immediately.
The least preferable is the Sor Kor 1. This document is an unregistered form stating a claim by an occupant of land that the land belongs to him or her. The measurements are vague or missing and can be easily disputed. Yet, even a simple Sor Kor 1 can be purchased from its holder and upgraded to a Chanote. Also, a Sor Kor 1 requires a 30-day public notice period before the transfer.
Additionally, although far less common, there are several other types of legally recognized Chanotes in existence. These other types of Chanotes may not contain boundaries and measurements as accurate as a Land Act Chanote but they are treated the same by the Land Department as far as transfer and registration of ownership is concerned.
Legal Due Diligence by qualified and experienced attorneys familiar with the history of land documents and procedures of the Land Department should always be conducted prior to purchasing any land. This process will generally include a complete review of the title history of the land, encumbrance search, land site inspection, and verification of land use and zoning regulations.
For further Property Title information please contact DUENSING KIPPEN, Phuket’s leading law firm specializing in Thai Property Law.