Property Jargon

Looking for a house, condo or apartment to buy or to rent? Understand the terms used in the property classifieds in Thailand...

Specific terminology and phrases are used in classified advertisements for Thai property to rent. Certain terms are also used when drafting a lease agreement to rent an apartment, condominium or house in Thailand.

Find out what these mean with a jargon guide to:

Property Rental Contracts

Term Meaning
Lease Agreement A lease agreement is a written contract between the owner of the land or property and the person wishing to lease or rent. The time range can vary from one year to 30 years. General information about the property and the tenant's and landlord's responsibilities are outlined and agreed on with a signature from both parties. Land or property leased for more than three years should be registered with the Department of Lands and taxes will be payable.
Diplomatic Clause If the lease is longer than one year, the agreement can be broken after six months of tenancy as long as a diplomatic clause is included in the agreement. The diplomatic clause imposes a one-month fine which is taken from the security deposit. If there is no diplomatic clause the owner can take as much as three months of security deposit.
Security Deposit In Thailand, it is fairly typical for the landlord to request a security deposit that amounts to two to three months' rent. This deposit covers the breaking of the lease as well as any damage to the property. At the end of the lease the security deposit is refunded as long as the owner is satisfied with the condition of the property.
Property Tax Rental property tax is 12.5 percent payable by the owner of the property. Some landlords try and make the lessee pay the tax in addition to the monthly rent. Have any tax procedures clearly stated on the lease.
Sublease A tenant signs an agreement with the owner of the property and pays rent to the owner every month. A sublease occurs when the tenant leases out the property to a third party. The third party usually pays more than the original rent to the tenant. The tenant makes a profit after paying the owner. Many owners restrict tenants from subleasing due to potential problems with the property and will state in the agreement that subleasing is not allowed.
Common Area Management Fee A monthly fee payable by owners of condominiums for the general upkeep of the shared areas.
Renewable Lease In Thailand, it is common for a foreigner to lease a house or land. The maximum time for a lease is thirty years. Any agreement to extend this lease is a private arrangement between owner and lessee and has no protection under Thai law.
Rent Rent is the agreed payment by the tenant to the owner for the right to occupy the property. Rent is usually paid every month, but it depends on the terms agreed on between the owner and tenant. In Thailand, it is not uncommon for a landlord to request that a tenant pay rent every three months in advance instead of once a month. Some landlords may insist that tenants pay for an entire year prior to moving in. This is not advisable as the landlord then has no incentive to make repairs or needed improvements. Unscrupulous landlords can make the conditions unbearable (turning off the water, electricity, etc.) causing the tenant to vacate and forfeit the prepaid rent and deposit.
A common term to describe an apartment in a large multi-unit building. Not all blocks of apartments are condominiums; the building has to be registered with the land department as a "condominium". This should be checked carefully before signing any agreement for purchase. Foreigners can purchase a condo outright in their own name as long as the condo is one of the foreign quota of allocated condos. The foreign quota of condos can total no more than 49 percent of the total number of condos in the building.
Serviced Apartment Very common in Bangkok, these can be rented on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. A serviced apartment will include beds, chairs, tables, lamps, television and possibly other amenities such as Internet, a gym or swimming pool. Most include a cleaning service and even laundry although there may be an additional charge. Between one and three months' deposit may be required.
Unfurnished Apartments An unfurnished apartment may or may not include a refrigerator, fan or air conditioner, light fixtures and beds.
Letter of Intent (LOI) &
Good Faith Deposit
A Letter of Intent is a written offer that expresses a mutual interest in renting the property and states the proposed rent, duration, move-in date and any work necessary to complete the proposed transaction. A good faith deposit is given to the owner to secure the LOI to prevent a potential lease to another party. It is not typical to give a LOI or a good faith deposit to secure property in Thailand. Generally a lease and security deposit are all that is needed.
Proof of Immigration Status In Thailand, the owner typically does not request proof of immigration status. A copy of a current passport attached to the lease agreement is the only necessary document.
Water Filtration A filtration system installed so that the tap water is good enough to drink

Local Property Terminology

Phrase Explanation
2 + 2 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms
ADSL or DSL Internet access via telephone line
Air Con Air conditioning
Bungalow In Thailand, a bungalow can mean a property that is not connected to another property and not necessarily only on one level. A bungalow can also mean a small one-room house.
Beach Front Houses or apartments that are located on or close to the beach
Condo (Condominium) Apartments or a room with a separate bathroom is considered a condo in Thailand. Up-market condos usually include a swimming pool.
Expressway Toll roads in Bangkok that generally are not subject to traffic jams
Kitchenette Small version of a full kitchen with a sink, small refrigerator and a microwave
Land-titled property Property within its own land
Liv. Rm Living room
Mae Baan Housekeeper or maid
Rai Thai measurement of land 1 Rai = 1,600 square metres; 1 acre = 2.57 Rai (0.4 hectares)
Shop House A property which is used as residential property as well as a store or a restaurant. Shop houses are very common in Thailand
Soi Soi is the Thai name for small street or avenue
Sq.m. Square metre
Townhouse Townhouses are usually terraced multi-storey houses. Often used as a shop house, these are very common in Thailand
UBC Satellite TV company popular throughout Thailand
Villa The term villa is typically used to describe an up-market luxury house with a pool, usually near the beach. However, do not be surprised to find this term used rather loosely in Thailand.
Village A village in Thailand can mean an area or province. A city can have many villages situated inside the city limits
WiFi Wireless Internet access