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Further Reading:

Lost Title Deeds and Buying Untitled Land

Wolfgang Schultz, wrote last week with this "Quick question": "If I lost the land title, which has my 30-yr lease registered on it, with the land owner being a Thai girl, how can I get a new one if she does not apply for it? In this case, my lawyer has the Power of Attorney - can he apply and sign on sales docs as well"?

To replace a lost title deed, the owner either in person or by valid power of attorney needs to first file a report with the police of a lost title and then take that report to the land office to apply for a new title. The process takes 30 days and is not that onerous, but please note that it's a criminal offence to make a false report to the police, so the person with the power of attorney from the Thai girl needs to be very careful of how they use it.

On the other hand, as a lessee you do not really need the title. You can always go with a lawyer to the land office and get a certified copy of both the land title deed and the lease from the land office - and that should be sufficient for most of your needs.

John Straw wrote "a brief follow up to your article in last weeks Phuket Gazette, it concerns the title deeds to land in Phuket , in fact to be more accurate it concerns land which does not have any title whatsoever and is for sale as such. The owner claims that a title may be granted in the future but this is not really positive enough; briefly what would you advise as an appropriate course of action? The land is in a very nice situation and the price is right, also the present owner has been using, living on, the plot for up to 60 years.

It's very hard to give any real answers without specific data and even then a considered opinion could only after a considerable amount of due diligence.

As a general rule, be very careful and wary of this type of deal. Put bluntly if the family who lives on the land, says title is so easy to issue, why has it not been issued in 60 years of occupancy. Matters are rarely as simple as they might be described. But that said titles can and indeed sometimes are issued on land currently without title. The main basis for issuing a title (Nor Sor Sam or Chanott) over land without title is by demonstrating occupancy rights to the land. The document that does this most convincingly is a Sor Kor Nung (a registered land occupancy claim that was filed and registered with the land office - probably over 40 years ago).
If a Sor Kor Nung is in existence and really covers the claimed parcel and represents it's area reasonably accurately, then title issuance may be possible. But it's not that simple, many government departments have to sign a waiver of any conflicting claim over the property - these include forestry department, marine department, highways department, district and provincial land office, etc. etc. If any one of these office has a counter claim you will have to prove the invalidity of that claim for the title upgrade to proceed.

About the only safe way to proceed with purchase of land such as this is if you can secure an option contract to buy such land without deposit (or with a very small deposit you are prepared to loose) and then a close only upon the issuance of the title

The catch 22 however is typically that the current owner needs (your) money to pay the relevant government officers to get the title issued. The problem is that there is no guarantee that if one or several of these government officers (or their agent) receives your money (which they typically want in advance) that eventually (6 to 12 months is not an unusual time frame) you will get a title for the money paid. Nor also is it certain that the title will have been correctly issued. It is possible (though not common) for a title to be rescinded if it can be shown that any one of the signatures given in the issuance of the title was fraudulently given.

Buying land without title involves considerable risks. To assess the risks involved requires considerable due diligence - and even after those efforts there are still no guarantees. Are you really prepared to take such a risk?