It might not be the most interesting of topics but there are a few things you should know about Property Law in Cambodia before you entertain purchasing property in the Kingdom. A good place to start is with a short history lesson.
History of Property Law in Cambodia
The Khmer Rouge abolished all ownership of land during their rule of the country from 1975-9. In the process they destroyed all records of property ownership. Following the occupation of the country by the Vietnamese army in late 1978 all property was owned by the State. This was the case until the early 1990s.
It was only once the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) governed the country following the 1991 Paris Peace Accords that private ownership of land was permitted. During this period soft title was granted to Cambodians through the local sangkat authority.
In 2001 a land law was passed that introduced hard title of property ownership. This also meant that ownership of land could be registered at the national level.
Foreign Ownership of Property in Cambodia
In 2010 a law was passed by the Cambodian National Assembly to allow foreign ownership of property. This in effect allowed strata title ownership of condos above the ground floor. Specifically foreigners can buy condos in co-owned buildings that have been built after 2010, but only 70% of the units can be owned by foreigners.
Other mechanisms by which foreigners can hold an interest in land, include incorporating a land holding company, and the nominee structure.
Seek Proper Advice
With such a turbulent history of property ownership in Cambodia, and with so much confusion as to soft and hard title, as well as whether a property was built before or after 2010, it is advisable to carry out due diligence before you purchase a property in Cambodia. It can present great investment opportunities but there are many pitfalls as well. Our advice, as always, is to consult the experts at Borey Williams.