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The rental process in Thailand is much more straight forward than in many other countries such as Japan or Singapore if for no other reason than there is generally only one agent/agency dealing with your property. Agents in Thailand work both sides of deal, acting for both the owner of the property, and the potential tenant, again, unlike many countries where each party has their own representative.
So, first things first, you identify an agent with which you would like to work, and let them know your criteria for property selection. Generally, the most important criteria to consider when looking for rental properties in Bangkok are:
Once all this information has been garnered by your agent, they should send you a shortlist of properties which they think may be suitable for your needs. You should peruse this list to ensure that the agent is working in the correct ballpark for your wants and needs before heading out to view properties which may be unsuitable. This first step is where many agents fall down and when you find out whether your agent is worth their salt. You will be surprised by how many agents out there do not take into account this information and then go ahead and waste both their own time and that of the client by showing completely unsuitable properties.
Once the shortlist has been prepared, the agent should make an appointment with you go to view the selected properties. Most reputable agencies will pick you up in their own vehicle from your hotel or wherever you may be staying, and drop you off back their after your viewings have finished for the day. Your route and timings will be planned to be the most efficient route around the properties which have been selected to view. Normally, from mid morning onwards is the best time to a viewing if there are 4 or more properties so as to miss the morning rush hour traffic, and return before the traffic deteriorates during the afternoon school run from around 3.30pm.
When viewing the properties, make sure you take lots of notes as to the positives and negatives of each, relevant to your needs. Your agent should not be very vocal during your viewings unless you wish them to be. Viewings for rental property are very different from the buying process. They shouldn’t be trying to sell you on a particular property; rather they should be showing you the features of each and letting you make up your own mind. Main things to check when renting property are:
These really are the main points, and these are the things which really cannot be changed. Any other small defects which you may find can generally be repaired/fixed along the way, or before you move in, but any of the above are beyond your control.
You don’t have to limit yourself to one day of viewings. This is a personal preference. Some people are more than happy with the first property that they view and make an offer on it right away, while others want to view every available unit in Bangkok! We at Bangkok Finder generally recommend seeing 6-8 properties which match your criteria. We would recommend however sticking with one agent, whoever that agent may be (See related article for explanation to this).
Once you have found a property which is suitable for your needs, you should instruct your agent (verbally is fine) to go ahead and make an offer for the property. Your offer should be a monetary offer, along with a list of any improvements/additions which you would need made to the property, and a tentative move in date. Once armed with this offer, the agent will immediately contact the owner with your offer. Obviously, the owner may counter offer, but in nine times out of ten an agreement is generally reached very quickly.
Once the agreement has been reached verbally, the agent will prepare a lease contract for the property on behalf of the owner. This contract should be in the English language. Check it thoroughly. Standard terms should be prevalent. These would be:
Occasionally, you may see the lease agreement split into two documents, one lease for ‘property’ and one lease for ‘furniture’ or ‘fixtures and fittings’. This generally only happens with higher end property and is done to minimize the property owner’s tax liability. Once the lease agreement has been approved by both the tenant and the owner a date for signing will be agreed and all parties will meet, usually at the property to sign the lease agreement. This is a good opportunity to get to know the owner of the property. This is very, very important in Asia where first impressions count much more so than in western countries. If the tenant makes a good impression on the property owner, this will cement a good relationship for both, and visa versa. The lease agreement should be made in triplicate, with copies of the tenant’s passport and owners ID Card attached as appendices. One copy is for the tenant, one for the owner, and one for the agent’s files.
This contract signing meeting is also a good time to arrange the deposit payment. Bear in mind that Thailand is a cash economy, and credit/debit cards cannot be used for deposit/rent payment. The only forms of payment available are cash, bank transfer or cashier’s check. Make sure to have this process completed before your move in date, as most property owners will understandably not let tenants take possession of the property without correct payment having occurred already.
During this period between contract signing and move-in date, your agent should be helping you to arrange such things as Internet connections and cable T.V. There should be no charge to you for them to carry out this service, though they will ask you for the funds to pay each of the utilities upon installation.
Upon contract signing and deposit payment, the only thing left is to go ahead and move into the property on the agreed date. Normally unless you specify otherwise, your agent will meet you at the property on your move in day to present you with the keys, and also to compose a furniture inventory for the property. This document is very important to both tenant and owner as it represents the exact state of the property on the date of handover, thus eliminating any potential arguments at a later date.
At this point, it’s up to you or your moving company to get yourself moved into the house. Should you encounter any problems with the property, a quick call to your agent should have that problem solved immediately, leaving you to just deal with the important task of getting your things sorted out and getting yourself settled into your new home.
You should not hear form your agent for a couple of days when they should give you a follow up call to make sure that you are well settled in and that you have no problems. Of course, if you do have any problems, you should feel free to contact the agent so that they can get it sorted on your behalf!
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