Most people have never heard of the term before yet many only discover its uses after a divorce or a relationship that has gone sour. The usufruct in Thailand is there to offer you protection. It is also there when leasing property. If you are buying property ensure there is no usufruct attached to the property.
In terms of the Civil and Commercial Code Section 1417 and 1434 you are allowed to register a usufruct over immovable property in Thailand giving the other person the right of usage of the property. Think of this right as the right to use or temporary but limited ownership. This agreement has to be registered against the title deed of the property and must be completed and handed in at the Land Office. Should you have a usufruct agreement in Thailand and the owner dies you still have the right to use the property as the agreement is bound to the property and not the owner of the property. Should you die however the usufruct agreement will come to an end.
A very good example with regards to Thailand is when many expats register the house or condo into the name of their wife, they fail to register a usufruct over the property in the event of trouble. Most times during a divorce the usufruct can be used as leverage in a divorce as your wife would more likely than not want to sell the property. That property can be sold but nobody would want to buy a property with a usufruct registered over it. This is what give you the leverage.
If you are buying property in Thailand and are married or plan to get married, speak to any of our lawyers with regards to a usufruct and the uses thereof with regards to marriage, divorce and property rights in Thailand.