Author Topic: New Rights For Renters in Thailand  (Read 644 times)

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Offline thaiga

New Rights For Renters in Thailand
« on: March 12, 2018, 12:20:57 PM »
New Rights For Renters in Thailand to ‘Shock’ Landlords

 New protections for tenants will soon come into effect that include limits on what landlords can charge and a way out of long-term leases.

Practices such as demanding multiple months of rent in advance and locking tenants out will become illegal May 1 under new safeguards in the Consumer Protection Act passed last month to more tightly regulate landlords and boost the rights of renters. The changes apply to property owners that lease five or more residential units, whether in one or multiple buildings.

“These new laws are done to protect tenants,” said Wirot Poonsuwan, a lawyer with a background in land rights. “On the other hand, landlords will now have their work cut out for them.”

One major change is that long-term leases can be terminated with 30-days notice provided tenants are current on their rent and give “reasonable” cause. That should make things easier for the nearly 20,000 members of the Take Over My Lease group on Facebook.

“Of course, a reasonable reason needs to be given,” said real estate consultant Sopon Pornchokchai. “For foreigners, that might be the need to move back to their country, and for Thais it might be the need to move due to a government position transfer. You can’t just up and leave whenever you want.”

Allowing renters to terminate their contracts will be a “big shock to the market,” he added. “Everyone’s going all, what are we gonna do? And now people will be getting lawyers and solicitors to check their contracts and everything, even if they never did before.”

Sophon said the news has largely gone unnoticed by the public but has been a big concern to big companies, including foreign ones, that rent land.

“The higher-ups all know about this,” Sopon said.  “Apartment owners are having a huge headache right now,” Sopon said. “Before, it was sabai sabai. Now it will be strict.”

The new regulations also prevent property owners from adding extra charges for things like water, electricity and Wi-Fi. Instead, they must charge only what is actually on the bill.

Tenants can also not be charged more than one month’s rent in advance, nor can their rent be increased before contract terms expire. Upon entering a lease, tenants cannot be charged more than one month in advance and a security deposit.

That means significantly lower move in costs, as most landowners presently charge two months rent and the equivalent of a third month as security deposit.

The de facto practice of punishing tenants who miss their rent by locking their doors or moving their stuff out will also be illegal.

The new regulations literally address the “fine print,” stipulating that contracts cannot contain type smaller than two millimeters.

Landlords who make illegal demands face up to a year in jail and 100,000-baht fine per lease violation. That means offending owners with five rentals could be jailed up to five years and fined up to 500,000 baht, Wirot said.

Instead of getting up to 60 days to return security deposits, landlords now must return them within seven days.

Landlords must also pay for routine maintenance and upkeep rather than charging tenants for repairing broken toilets, leaking roofs and broken door knobs.

Under the new law, unhappy tenants in multi-family housing may band together in the dozens or hundreds to file a joint complaint rather multiple individual complaints.

Those renting property therefore have under two months now to rewrite their contracts to comply with the new law or draw up new ones entirely.

Tenants may contact the Consumer Protection Board about their landlords by calling 02-141-3437. Property owners can contact the same Board’s Contracts Committee at 02-143-9767 to get help reviewing their contracts to verify they are legally compliant.

Correction: A previous version of the article did not explain that the amended law only applies to landlords who rent five or more properties.

khaosodenglish.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 

Offline Johnnie F.

Re: New Rights For Renters in Thailand
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2018, 03:57:58 PM »
Landlords must also pay for routine maintenance and upkeep rather than charging tenants for repairing broken toilets, ... and broken door knobs.

That law will definitely cause a lot of new cases at court and make lawyers richer, as it seems not to contain any protection of the landlord against irresponsible use by the tenants. Items of frequent use like door knobs, water taps etc. will last a lot longer, if treated properly. Therefore the landlord should be allowed to ask for a minimum charge as self-participation by the tenant, when any of these items break. Also costs for routine maintenance and upkeeping can be heavily reduced by resonsible use of the rented house or apartment. Therefore the law should allow clauses to encourage responsible use by imposing some clearly defined forms of regular maintenance and upkeeping on the part of the tenant.
Fun is the one thing that money can't buy
 

Offline thaiga

Thai Law: What Landlords Must Now Do (Or Go to Jail)

On May 1, residential leases will become restricted contracts under the newly amended Consumer Protection Act.

That means any leases that conflict with the new law, which likely is most leases, must be amended and remade to comply. Landlords who ignore the new legal requirements and take no action to deliver a new compliant lease to the tenant are criminally liable for a year in jail and fine of 100,000 baht per lease violation.

A landlord who doesn’t issue new compliant leases for their 10 units, if discovered by the authorities or subjected to a complaint, faces the possibility of 10 years in jail.

Read: New Rights For Renters in Thailand to ‘Shock’ Landlords

That’s heavy punishment for what used to be purely a civil and commercial transaction. Further, the law contemplates that any existing contract obligations in a non-compliant lease are null and void, with the new legal stipulations adopted as the binding contract instead.

Furthermore, property owners must know that American-style class-action lawsuits have arrived for consumers in Thailand. Tenants who want to bring legal action can now band together to do so jointly to sue the same landlord and share in the amount of damages granted.

Setting aside those alarming or heartening developments – depending on which side of the contract one sits – let’s unpack some of the specific consequences of the new law.

Note that while the regulations apply to a “residential lease business” – meaning landlords who rent out a total of five or more residential units – that doesn’t make much difference as a great number of landlords in Thailand lease out more than five properties. The regulations don’t cover dormitories or hotels, which are beholden to separate laws.
Only Two Months Up Front

Landlords can no longer demand advance security deposits of three months’ rent plus a full month in (for a total of four months) on signing a new apartment or house lease. The maximum security deposit warranted is one month, plus another one month’s rent payable in advance, amounting to two months’ worth.

And this is applied retroactively, meaning anything over two month’s worth must be returned.

That means while lessers are rushing to draft new compliant leases, they also must refund the lessee for the security deposits and advance rent charged in excess of what the law now allows.

They have until May 1 to do this, or within 30 days of the date if they have a substantial number of properties because those with dozens or hundreds of apartments would face a single large payout. For real estate investment trusts, the considerable one-time outlay of cash will no doubt affect the population at large who are financially invested in the trust.

Security deposits and advance rents have been given special emphases under the law. Can these funds be forfeited if a tenant fails to pay rent on time or damages the premises, as would appear to be the purpose of the money? Surprisingly, the stipulations forbid such forfeiture. An attempt has been made to interpret the regulations as prohibiting forfeiture while the lease is in effect but allowing it once the lease expires.

Upon the expiration of the leasehold, if there is no damage to her property, the lessor must refund the security deposit to the lessee within seven days. Writing a period of 30 days or 60 days into the lease is now prohibited.
High-Demand Areas

Popular condos along the BTS route sometimes require a one month deposit from would-be renters who must forfeit them if they don’t sign a lease within 30 days while the landlord finds another lessee. That conduct will be regarded as an undue advantage and rendered null and void under the new law.

Another common situation is where a lessee downtown can never find a parking space in the condo’s car park, which is always full because the landlord also accepts cars from non-tenants to park there, forcing the tenant to drive around the car park from floor to floor just to have no luck to find a spot. The tenant’s only solution may be to pay to park at a nearby department store or other building then walk back or take a cab back home. Landlords who do this can be deemed to be profiteering and risk complaints filed with the Office of the Commission for Consumer Protection, or even the kind of class-action lawsuit common in the United States is possible for consumer protection cases.
Fees and Costs

Another prevalent conduct of landlords is to fix their own utility charges by marking up electricity, water, and telephone charges from the utility providers for a profit. Security deposits and arbitrary installation charges for installation of a landline and internet fees can only be passed on at cost. Adding charges for added income in the way hotels do is no longer allowed.

Landlords tend to shift the maintenance and repair burden to tenants, regardless of large or small repairs caused by normal wear and tear. A landlord is concerned that such costs will eat into the rent and so pass them on to tenants. This practice is regarded as unfair under the law.

The law also spells the end of stamp duties of 0.1 percent of the rent throughout the contract; 12.5 percent land and house tax and signage taxes on the leased premises being foisted onto the lessee. This tax burden allocation is not forbidden expressly by the regulations but can be seen as taking unfair contract advantage. Questions about whether any provision of a lease falls afoul of the law, the lessor can write the Contracts Committee for a ruling.
Breaking Leases

A stipulation sure to be disliked by lessors that will have repercussions the stability of rent income for real estate investment trusts is the generosity of the law in allowing tenants to terminate their lease before it expires with 30-days notice. The rule could cause the outflow of tenants from an apartment building to exceed the inflow, hurting the fundamentals of the rental business.

On the other hand, the landlord cannot easily terminate a lease on the grounds of breach of covenant by a tenant. Instead, they must wait until a substantial breach highlighted in red letters, bold letters or italics in the lease. Upon such substantial breach by the tenant, the landlord must give notice of 30 days that it be rectified, and only if ignored, can the landlord terminate the lease.

Extreme measures of force taken against tenants such as changing the locks to bar entry or entering the leased premises to remove the a tenant’s belongings or any other act that obstructs access in case of failure to pay rent will now be considered a criminal act of trespass, exposing the landlord to potential prosecution.

To avoid trouble with the law, landlords still have time to carefully review each provision of their leases to determine which are in violation of the law and change them before the stipulation takes effect to mitigate risks of invalidity, class-action lawsuits by tenants or committing criminal offenses.

khaosodenglish.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 

Offline Baby Farts

Re: New Rights For Renters in Thailand
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2018, 08:57:06 PM »
About time.  Years ago when I used to rent, the Landlords would rip everyone off with their inflated electricity fees.  It's not like they bring the electricity to your room in a bucket.  It comes in thru the line.  The added service charge is not justified.  When I questioned the landlord (17 years ago) he said, "Oh because Profit."
 

Offline thaiga

Thai Law: Landlord Not Playing By New Rules? Here’s What to Do.

Two weeks after new consumer protections came into effect, few landlords have refunded security deposits collected in excess of the new legal limit. This despite the law, as of May 1, saying they must return to tenants anything over one month’s value following long-standing practice of collecting two – or more.

Neither are many landlords complying with the new law’s demand – on pain of potential criminal prosecution – that old rental agreements be thrown out and replaced with compliant ones.

Why is this? They may be predicting the unlikelihood that the authorities will get serious about putting them in jail for one year for not complying.

Risk assessment by landlords could go so far as seeing little ramification for their business when they feel there are too many defiant fellow landlords for the Consumer Protection Board to handle.  The law is draconian in their view, having been promulgated by a small group of people without consulting them, their trade associations or holding any public hearings. The authorities have insufficient manpower to prosecute non-compliant landlords throughout the country.

Their bet is, as with many laws in the country, enforcement may be lax.

Read on for what they also don’t know: a powerful legal tool that is now available to all.

As for renters, what can they do if they don’t get the extra security deposit refund? Sue the landlord for a disputed amount worth as little as one month’s rent? Call the consumer protection board to complain? Despite the option to “Press 9 for English” upon greeting, the board’s 1166 hotline offers no service to non-Thai speakers. One foreign renter tells me he got through to someone who just hung up on him.

Yet the board does have an online system for foreigners to submit complaints in English. Register an account using your passport number and accept the “Notice Before Complaints” page. Don’t puzzle over the meaning of “All grievances or complaints should know Before” because this is straight up Google Translate material. Tick the boxes below and “Accept.” This will present you with a form in Thai, but click the unselected radio button at the very top of the form and – voila – it changes to English.

Complete both pages then check your email’s spam folder for a username and password. Now of course the actual complaint form is only in Thai, so you’ll have to Google Translate the instructions on submitting a complaint, but this is not difficult.

Now back to the new law.

A straightforward maximum one-month advance payment of rent permitted by the new law can also become an issue. Some landlords refuse to allow the renter to deduct the payment against the last month’s rent when the lease expires, preferring to enter into a verbal controversy to demand that the renter pay the last rent. Based on what they hear, renters won’t trust the landlord and fear no refund of the advance payment after the expiry – a fear not totally invalid. The peaceful solution for both sides is for the lease to expressly allow the set-off of the advance payment against the last month’s rent.

Landlords’ defiance of the new rules will not help them in regard to their rights, already lost, in a long-term lease. Under the new law, irrespective of what the lease says, the renter can simply terminate their four-year lease, a stability of income expected by landlords, by giving 30 days’ notice and a reasonable excuse: relocating back to a home country; moving closer to a factory in the provinces, inconvenience of transportation, the location too far from BTS, a wet walk on rainy days to the subway, a moral move to care for an aged parent among others. Practically, anything can be said by the renter to make the cause of termination sound reasonable. Efforts by the landlord to prove those reasons false would be expensive and next to impossible.

A prohibited surcharge on electricity and water is another area of contention. Renters well-versed in the current requirements of the law for the charge of the utility at cost would challenge those extra bills. Mark-ups on electricity have been a considerable source of income for the lessors—in some cases it is a double from 5 baht per unit of electricity to 10 baht; they don’t want to see this steady cash flow evaporate overnight. Tap water is cheap as it is subsidized by the waterworks authorities; each room will not incur more than 100 baht per month, a prevalent opportunity for some lessors to triple it to 300 baht.

Again, what is the recourse for the renter? A distress call to the consumer protection office hotline or firing a web complaint into the ether? Probably best to get a Thai friend on the phone for a common understanding of the nature of the complaint between you and the officer. Frequent visits by the consumer protection officials to the apartment building in response to multiple telephone complaints would not do the lessor any good.

A question arises as to how the renter knows that the lessor has five or more units of residential leases, the threshold for the applicability of the existing law. In an apartment building with five rooms or more, the fact is conspicuous to establish. Complications ensue in a condo or single-house rental. The renter can only investigate by themselves to find out – they need to talk to a lot of people – which can be a challenge.

Wirot Poonsuwan is a practicing attorney and can be reached at wirot.poonsuwan@gmail.com.

full article  khaosodenglish.com  link for comlaints  http://complain.ocpb.go.th/OCPB_Complains/Main?lang=EN
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 

 



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