A junta announcement last Wednesday reminding property owners to notify the Immigration Bureau of all foreign tenants within 24 hours ruffled feathers in Thailand’s expat real estate community, but the little-enforced law has been on the books for decades.
The National Council for Peace and Order’s televised address on Sept. 2 at noon requested “Homeowners and owners of hotels, apartments, and accommodation buildings where there are foreigners staying in the accommodation to inform officials at nearest immigration bureau or the local police station within 24 hours of the foreigner's arrival at the premises."
The announcement caused consternation in the Bangkok rental property scene.
“I hadn’t noticed Wednesday’s announcement on this so I’m in trouble for not reporting my own tenant,” an executive at Colliers International Thailand told real estate website Dot Property.
“This regulation has always been on the books but not enforced,” said Simon Landy, Chairman of Colliers International Thailand “In the wake of the arrest of the Erawan suspect in a rented apartment someone decided it should be enforced.”
The other real estate firms contacted were either “unaware of the announcement, or were not prepared to comment on it.”
It appears that the little-known-about law has been around for decades, but was only re-emphasized in the wake of the Erawan bombing.
According to the 1979 Immigration Act, “House owners, heads of household, landlords or managers of hotels who accommodate foreign nationals on a temporary basis who stay in the kingdom legally, must notify the local immigration authorities within 24 hours from the time of arrival of the foreign national.”
One official at the Government Contact Center told Coconuts Bangkok that the investigation into the bombing opened up the eyes of the government about how little the law has been enforced.
“The NCPO only encouraged landlords to notify the immigration office as accordance to the law," Yingsak Dechyuwawech said "After the bombing, authorities found out through investigation that many landlords do not report their foreign tenants."
NCPO commented on their televised address Wednesday that reporting foreign tenants was “another method of building security and promoting safety for tourists.”