What is Titled Land?
Anne Ruygrok , who from her family name I must assume is Thai, wrote "I have read some of your articles about land properties (in the Phuket Gazette) I have a question: What exactly does ‘titled’ land or ‘untitled’ land mean? What are the consequences when a land is ‘untitled’? How does it become ‘titled’? I hope you can help me out.."
TAnne, this is one of the more interesting questions that I have received in recent years. The answer to an extent is as much one of linguistics and popular perception as it is of land law, and I suppose the short answer is that it is really a matter of degree.
Thailand as, I assume you already knows has varying levels of claim (or title) to ownership of land, these range at the lowest level to "ti crop krong" or possessory rights created by virtue of occupation, through "tor bor tor ha/hoc" - possessory rights that are reinforced by virtue of payment (with official receipt) of taxes to a local authority against that occupation, usage or possession, thorough the "Sor Kor Nung" or reserve license, the lowest level or recorded rights to land against which a document with description and dimensional plan of the property - albeit very rudimentary - is issued (or at least were until 1955) confirming the claimant, by district land offices. Significantly while a Sor Kor Nung is described in a document, there is no way to register it's sale or lease, it (and as in all the other lower claims) cannot be used as mortgage collateral and further it is not possible to obtain planning approval to build upon such land.
All of the forgoing are generally referred to as "untitled" land, despite the fact that "Sor Kor Nung" subject to the claim not being deemed within Forestry department land, National park, etc, and correctly representing the actual physical area of the land, can generally and relatively simply be upgraded to Nor Sor Sam (kor) or Chanott title.
Moving on up the scale from the Sor Kor Nung we have the Nor Sor Sam (which comes in two variants) the Chanott - all of which in common usage are regarded as titled land. - and a special restricted title off to one side - the Sor Bor Kor
Chanott is the highest grade of land document issued in Thailand and is in the strictest interpretation is the only land document that qualifies as a full title deed - key in this qualification is that the boundaries for the deed are defined by absolute UTM coordinate references linked to a national co-ordinate grid (or more recently by satellite positioning) - identifiable on the ground by numbered survey pegs set at ground level
Nor Sor Sam - technically a "Land Utilization Testimonial" though to all practical purposes a title deed for rural areas issued by the district land office (as distinct the provincial land office for Chanott) only differs from a Chanott significantly in that its boundaries are less accurately surveyed and are only defined relative to the neighboring land owners plots though in the case of the more recent and far more prevalent Nor Sor Sam Kor (issued since 1978) the location of the land is also defined with reference to overlay plans on aerial survey photographs. In all other respects, the Nor Sor Sam Kor, can be sold, leased, mortgaged and built upon (subject to applicable zoning codes) in exactly the same way as with a Chanott (though it should be noted that in the case of the older Nor Sor Sam - a 30 day public notice will be required).
Sor Por Kor is a special class of title that was issued through out most of the 1990's to some claimants with a long proven occupation over forestry land. While it is accurately surveyed as the Chanott and may be developed and built upon, the right is granted to the original claimant only and may not be leased or sold - though can be transferred to heirs.
I trust that that is clear. Pretty simple really!