Foreign Ownership of a House
If I marry a Thai and she owns land on which we build a house after marriage, is it possible for me to own part or all of the house? Or must the house also belong 100% to her? What if a divorce occurs? I understand that I can’t own any land.
Mathias Lindahl, Sweden.
According to section 144 of the civil law code, a house is considered part of the land it is on, and the owner of the land therefore also has ownership rights to the house. However, under section 146 there is an exception, which states that a house that is temporarily attached to a piece of land is not considered part of the land. This is for buildings or other construction built by a person who has been given the rights to use another person’s land. Accordingly, if a foreigner rents land from an owner, and has a rent contract, he can build a house on that land, and the house will belong to him. According to section 1410 the owner of the land may give the right to another person to own a building or construction on that land. Therefore, in this case, the foreigner may own the house while the land still belongs to his wife. According to section 1411, the owner of the house has every right to dispose of it as he sees fit, whether by transferring ownership, selling it, or leaving it as an inheritance. Therefore, you should make a contract with your wife, stating that you are renting the land. You can then build a house and share equal rights in the house (though not the land) with your wife. Without such a contract, the house will belong entirely to your wife. But with the contract, should there be a divorce, the house may be sold and the proceeds divided equally between the two parties or according to any other agreement that may be reached.
Sarayuth Mallam, SM International Law Office.