Land ownership through adverse possession | Bangkok Post: business

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Land ownership through adverse possession

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In Thailand, individuals or entities that are eligible to hold ownership of land under the Land Code can acquire it by means of purchase, hire-purchase, gift or inheritance. But there is one more way to obtain ownership of landed property, which does not require consent from the previous owner: adverse possession, colloquially known as "squatters' rights". 

The difference between ownership and mere possession is that in the latter case, a person is exercising intentional control over a property, without necessarily being the legal owner. An example of possession would be if you borrowed your friend's car for a weekend trip; you are in possession of the car during that trip, but your friend still remains the owner of the car.

Adverse possession occurs when a third party acquires the title to a legal owner's real property without the legal owner receiving any compensation or engaging in any contract. The third party acquires ownership rights by holding the property for a specific period of time, in a manner that conflicts with the original owner's rights. This common-law concept of obtaining ownership through possession, known in ancient Roman law as "usucapio", has found its way into the laws of many civil-law countries, including Thailand's Civil and Commercial Code (CCC).

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