Consumer Protection Board Shakes Up Thailand’s Residential Lease Market

To the delight of residential tenants in Thailand, the Consumer Protection Board’s “Committee on Contract” has issued a notification that will make certain residential leases much more lessee friendly.  Under the notification, published in the Government Gazette on 16 February and scheduled to take effect on 1 May 2018, certain residential leases will be treated as “controlled contracts” under the Consumer Protection Act and will be subject to the following restrictions:

  1. Rents cannot be collected more than one month in advance.
  2. Security deposits cannot be more than one month’s rent.
  3. Surcharges on electricity or water supply are not allowed (only actual charges by the utility providers are allowed).
  4. Force evacuation / removal of properties of a defaulted tenant from the leased area is not allowed.
  5. Renewal fees cannot be charged.

The above restrictions do not apply to all residential lease agreements but only to those that meet the following conditions:

  1. the lessor (whether an individual or a legal entity) has for lease five or more residential units (in a house, apartment, condominium, etc) whether in the same building or otherwise;
  2. the building is not a licensed dormitory or hotel; and
  3. the tenant is an individual.

The notification does not include a grandfathering provision and will apply to all qualifying residential leases in effect as of 1 May 2018.  A violation of the new notification is subject to a maximum fine of Baht 100,000 and/or a maximum imprisonment term of one year pursuant to Section 57 of the Consumer Protection Act.