Quick disclaimer before I get into this: do not treat this as legal advice, this is a simple explanation of the various laws that you need to be aware of if you are looking to rent out a property short term or through Airbnb in Thailand. Airbnb and the law in Thailand have some conflicts but like all new industries, the legal framework isn’t setup to deal with it.
You are looking to rent out your property on Airbnb in Thailand? You want to make some extra money during your time when you are not in the area, you might be working abroad or taking an extended trip back to Europe / US or wherever. It is important to know how Airbnb and the law in Thailand work so that you can stay on the right side of things. Sites like Airbnb have brought short term rentals into the popular domain. More and more people are choosing to stay in short term rentals but what does the law say?
The Hotel Act
There is often confusion as to whether the hotel act applies to short term rentals. A lot of people see short term rentals as illegally operated hotels which need to go through the same regulations as a normal hotel. There is wording in the hotel act in Thailand that it only applies if you have 4 or more units in the same building. This means that if you are running your own unit on AirBnB or similar sites when you are out of town and not running multiple units then you do not need to worry about the regulation that is covered by the hotel act. You are not 4 units, therefore you are not covered by the act. That is the end of it.
Sometimes a juristic office will put up signs saying that the condo isn’t a hotel and that short term rental guests shouldn’t be there and it is not allowed. They are technically wrong if they are quoting the hotel act as a reason for justifying this. There are ways that a juristic office can justify their signs which try and frighten potential guests but using the hotel act if you are not operating more than 4 units in the building is not one of them.
The Condo Act
When you buy a condominium in Thailand, you are often given a fancy looking box which has everything to do with the condo in it. It will usually contain the keys for the room, mailbox, doors, windows and everywhere. Cards for access to the building and car park, perhaps a stamp for visitors you know who use the car park and some books. One of these books is a book of ownership and the other tends to be the condominium rules. These tend to focus on what happens if you make damage to the building or what to do in various scenarios. It is a way for the condominium to run peacefully and for all residents to get along.
The book is mainly written purely in Thai so if you do want to read it, then it is worth investing in a proper translation so you can see exactly what is written. If there is no mention of short term rentals in these rules then short term rentals have not been outlawed in the building. It is pretty much as simple as that. For new rules to be added, a general meeting needs to be called and a new rule needs to be proposed. If a rule is proposed then there is a vote from the remaining owners within the building. If the vote gets more than a 50% majority then it becomes a rule.
The Condo Act pretty much states that if something becomes a rule in the condo, it is covered by the law. Therefore condo rules are laws. If a condo majority of owners does decide that they do not want short term rentals in their building and it is voted that way then it would be illegal to run short term rentals in that building. If no such thing has happened, then the rule does not exist. If you are considering a property on the second hand market to run as a short term rental investment, ask for a copy of the condo rules. If you do your research, you have nothing to fear.
Conclusion – Airbnb and the law in Thailand
Rules in Thailand are pretty fluid and open to interpretation. If you are considering running a short term rental in the country then it is worth keeping an eye on the news and also what is happening in the country. Things can change quickly but if you look at the laws which affect short term rentals, then renting out an individual condo for a period of time shouldn’t be a problem. If you have 4 or more in the same building then you will start to have some headaches, just like if your building has voted to outlaw it.
If you would like some assistance on whether short term rentals is allowed in your building and looking for a professional service who can help out. Let us know! We’d be happy to help.