Rental /Leasing Process for a Bangkok Condominium, Apartment, or House
The agent plays a very important role of guiding you to optimal locations and properties, answering questions, helping you get oriented in Bangkok, and so on ... However, this page is not about all that, it's about the process of leasing a home.
Once you have selected a home to "close" on, whether it be a house, condominium, or apartment, the leasing process is nearly the same.
You can usually negotiate the price, what is included in the price, and other terms with most properties. The agent normally is the broker between landlord and prospective tenant, and can guide both on what is reasonable and customary.
For example, you may require particular furniture and appliances added or removed, for internet and cable TV to be included in the rent, and so on. The requests may affect the price offered. Therefore, as the first part of negotiations, we normally put together a complete wish list from you, before we start to discuss any adjustments of price.
A standard lease is offered by the agent (us) which is neutral, not biased towards the landlord. This is what is most commonly used. However, some landlords require we use their lease which they are already familiar with (as English is usually not their native language), though we also have a Thai translation of our lease. With expats, all leases are written in English. You shouldn't sign anything in only Thai.
For negotiations of the terms of the lease, as well as any disagreements or disputes later, before or after signing a lease and tenancy, the agent is normally the arbitrator as well as the consultant to both sides. We don't just walk away after you've moved in. The process does not end until you move out, whereby we return to do a final checkout with you and settle the security deposit.
The standard security deposit in Bangkok is 2 months, for over 90% of rentals of all kinds. Sometimes a landlord will request 3 months, for example if all the furniture is new and you are bringing in pets. (Most pet rentals require 2 months deposit.) Other times, the tenant can sometimes negotiate 1 month of rent if the house is completely unfurnished and there are other factors which would favor 1 month. However, both of these exceptions are in a small minority of rentals in Bangkok.
The security deposit is returned to you shortly after you vacate the premises, after all bills have been settled. Usually, it is returned in full. However, if there issues such as unpaid bills, damages beyond normal wear and tear, or you have seriously broken your lease, then deductions can be made from the security deposit. (See discussion at the end of this section.)
The rent is paid at the beginning of each month you rent, not at the end. This is standard in Thailand.
For setting up utilities such as internet, we have staff who specialize in that. We also show you how to pay bills.
In legal terminology:
Landlord = Lessor
When we negotiate the lease, one of the questions is about maintenance -- what the renter is responsible for, and what the landlord is responsible for.
Generally, the landlord is responsible for keeping the property in working order. For example, if an air conditioner fails, then the landlord is responsible for the cost of fixing or replacing it. If a light bulb burns out, the tenant replaces it as a consumable.
Repairs due to the Lessee’s misuse or negligence are the responsibility of the Lessee.
Repairs due to faulty construction, faulty plumbing, faulty electrical systems & faulty appliances (refrigerator, stove/oven, washer/dryer and air conditioners) which are the property of the Landlord are the responsibility of the Landlord.
Most problems clearly fall into one or the other category -- the landlord's or tenant's.
If it is not clear whether the repair should be covered by Tenant or Landlord, then any needed repairs or maintenance reasonably expected to cost more than [XXXX] baht and which are not due to Tenant negligence will be the responsibility of the Landlord; likewise, the Tenant will be responsible for repairs less than [XXXX] baht when it is not clear whether it is the responsibility of the Landlord or the Tenant. The [XXXX] amount is sometimes proportional to the value of the property, or can be set at something like 1000 or 2000 baht.
If there is still a disagreement, then come back to us as the agent to serve as the third party arbitrator.
When you end your stay normally and after you vacate the premises, then we arrange for the return of your security deposit, usually in full, but sometimes minus unpaid bills and any damages beyond wear and tear.
One of the most common fears expressed by tenants is not getting their deposit back.
There are many stories on the internet of landlords who have not returned a security deposit, keeping it in full, simply out of greed. In our experience, this is extremely rare when a good agent is used. However, it has happened a lot of times when tenants rent directly from a landlord without an agent. There are a few reasons for this. One is that good agents have already screened the landlords. Secondly, of the class of properties we deal with, the vast majority of landlords are wealthy, high class people who don't actually need the money, and do business professionally and honorably, though there are also some very wealthy and abusive people in this world. Thirdly, good landlords outsource to professional agents like us to handle real estate matters. Stingy landlords with us would be stingy with you, too, and we don't deal with them. Likewise, if they would rip off you, they would rip off us, too, and we can usually detect that at the start. We are extensively experienced in Thailand and know the warning signs of questionable landlords, from difficult to sheer rip offs, to both us and you, which affects who we choose as landlords. Importantly, landlords who seize deposits or neglect to honor agreements get blacklisted, so that most agents won't bring a customer there again, so that the landlord will lose out in the longterm, keeping their properties rented less, and forced to find their own tenants. Bad news is sensational and travels further than good news, naturally, and is parroted quickly thru the grapevine of agents and coagents. We simply don't show their properties, and this saves you time, headaches, and money, too. It's actually not such a big world in Bangkok business and real estate circles, and bad landlords can be left to only hang a sign on their house and advertise directly without agent. If a landlord starts to get dodgy at the end of a contract, then we can apply a lot of peer pressure, Thai style.
A second issue is landlords who deduct the cost of damages from the rent, for example, if you break a window but don't fix it, then you are subject to the landlord's repair bill. According to the lease, you are not charged for normal wear and tear, but damages due to tenant negligence need to either be repaired before you vacate or else the landlord may charge you for the repairs. If you think an alleged damage should be considered normal wear and tear, or if repair costs are unreasonable, then the agent will try to arbitrate.
In Thailand, most landlords are very wealthy, with factory owners and exporters being the lion's share of landlords, whereby they invest excess income into property for diversification of assets. It's very different from some western countries where a much higher percentage of landlords are depending upon rental income for a substantial percentage of their monthly or annual income (e.g., a westerner who pays off a property and then retires on its income). It's rare to find a landlord of a property of class who already spent the deposit or who has difficult returning it. However, it is less rare to find a landlord who is a successful businessman and has an attention to detail. More commonly, they don't bother over relatively insignificant details, but there are some landlords who must be dealt with professionally, to say the least.
Many landlords can be tough negotiators but still honor their agreements. This is common in business. We clarify agreements from the start. Actually, it starts with good landlords with good homes in good communities, but we clarify on paper and in emails issues from the beginning in order to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts later.
There are also many cases in the mass media (newspapers, TV news), in addition to the internet, of scams, whereby the alleged landlord of a property is actually a fake and doesn't own the property. This is most common when the real landlord is out or town or outside of Thailand but their key has been compromised (e.g., by an untrustworthy maid or friend, or stolen or lost for awhile...) whereby an impostor pretends to be the landlord. We require that the landlord present their ownership document together with their ID card. If they don't, then we don't deal with them. (Unfortunately, they can always find easier targets elsewhere.) We've never yet had a case of fraud along these lines, but we have had alleged landlords who quickly go quiet and disappear when we request certain information. Whether or not we prevented a bad situation in some cases, we don't know. However, we have met some people who fell victim to this -- received a knock on the door by somebody who asked why they are occupying their property. Thailand has many scams against foreigners, whereby rentals and sales are big money to the perpetrators, but these scams are not difficult to protect yourself against with some common sense diligence.
I should emphasize that the bad experiences are very few and far between. However, bad news travels much further than good news or news of no significance to others.
On the other hand, so many landlords are nice, pleasant, friendly, helpful, and reasonable.
In covering what can go wrong, we should not overemphasize this. Fear is a much stronger instinct so that bad experiences tend to make a much stronger impression than good experiences. However, we receive a lot of inquiries about the above topics.
Most landlord-tenant relationships are harmonious with the right guidance, intentions, respect, attitude and professionalism.
It is the role of the professional agent to guide and advise both the tenant and the landlord on a variety of matters.
If you think that you, the tenant, may have a lot of questions, you may be surprised to know that many landlords also have a lot of questions for us, the agent.
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