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Further Reading:

Security of Property Surroundings

John, a recent visitor to our offices, asked us " I am interested in a villa in one of the new upscale ocean front developments on the island. While I understand I can control the design of my own villa how can I ensure that the master plan is adhered to? Specifically, I am assured by the developers that the views from the villas in the rows behind the front most villas will be unobstructed by the villas in front. Since nothing has yet been built, how do I know to trust this promise"?

That's an interesting and very pertinent question, to which there is no simple single answer. At the most primary level, your question can be answered by carefully reviewing the nature of the legal documents that support the assurances that may be given by the developer and conducting some local due diligence into the reputation and past performance of the developer concerned.

The question however is not fully answered by contractual commitments and a well intentioned developer alone. It goes on to the question of long term enforcement of the contractual conditions, over the future buyers (or more saliently any second or third generation buyers) of the neighboring plots.

Under Thai law, once a plot is owned freehold, the owner generally has rights to develop as he chooses - subject always to the relevant planning codes (and, quite correctly, this provides one of the arguments in support given by developers who will only sell land on lease terms - it's easier to enforce project contractual covenants and restrictions over lessees than freehold owners)

Since there is no system in Thailand (save for the registration of easements) for recording restrictive covenants directly over the land title, any limitation upon future usage of a property can only be set out in civil contracts between the original contracting parties - these conditions cannot have any enforceability directly over the land - in the final event, it is only the threat of civil contract penalties that will discourage breach of the conditions - and with each successive change of owner the chain of enforceability reduces or may well get completely broken.

Even where there are clear contractual agreements providing for enforcement of a breach (typically through exacting of penalty) it is rarely the injured party who is a direct party to those contracts. Whether a developer (the likely holder of right of enforcement of said contractual covenants) is going to be willing to (or even physically present to) enter into long complex litigation on your behalf ten years from now has to be regarded as somewhat doubtful even with the bet intentioned of developers.

While there are undoubtedly legal contracts that will provide for better long term legal protection under such circumstances, the best advice is to select a building lot that is protected by geography, topography and the (increasingly strictly enforced) planning codes.

As such your safest option for protected views is a direct frontage lot, and if you want to take advantage of the typically significantly lower prices for a second row lot, try to select one where the views are protected naturally rather than contractually.