Cambodia, unlike its neighboring counterparts, has a freehold land ownership system for its citizens. Foreigners based in Cambodia are also allowed rights of ownership over certain properties, subject to 2010 Law on the Provision of Ownership Rights. These rights, are restricted to buildings that have obtained a “strata title,” which is available only to newly completed apartment buildings. However there are methods to buy land for foreigners.
According to the strata title regulation, foreigners cannot acquire a ground-floor unit legally, and any foreign ownership allocation is limited to a maximum of 70 percent of the units in any one co-owned building. Let’s explore the main ways property ownership can be secured in Cambodia, and the major misconceptions surrounding Cambodian property ownership and Cambodia land titles.
Types of Property Titles
Once a property is set to be acquired, the next thing to be decided upon is the type of property title to use. There are 4 main types of Property titles in Cambodia
Soft Title without Cadastral Number (No tax paid)
It is the most common to acquire, and ~85% of properties in Cambodia are held under this title. This title form is registered at the Sangkat (council) and Khan (district) levels only and is not registered at the National level. As the administration of these titles is managed by the local authorities, soft titles are transferred quickly (normally less than 10 working days) and at a low cost. When certain requirements (years of ownership, etc) are fulfilled the landlord can apply to a land survey to get a cadastral number and record the land in government database with exact measurements.
These titles aren’t recommended.
Soft Title with Cadastral Number (Taxed)
A cadastral number means that the land is recognized as a private property and recorded to government database of land plots in the city masterplan. The next step for such a land would be to apply for a hard title deed. There are some requirements to be fulfilled to apply for a hard title such as years of possession. There are safe methods for foreigners to buy, own, use and develop a soft title land.
Hard Title (Taxed)
Hard title properties are the strongest form of land ownership in Cambodia. Hard titles are registered at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction (National level). In the rare instance where a property has a hard title and a soft title, the hard title trumps claims of ownership based on the possessory right. Because of this, some property owners prefer to deal with hard titles. Transfer of hard titles are done at the cadastral office and usually takes around 12 weeks to complete. There is a 4% transfer tax on the “property value,” with the valuation being done by an official from the cadastral office. There are safe and legal methods for foreigners to buy, own, use and develop a hard title land. Please contact us for more information.
LMAP Title: Land Management and Administration Project (Taxed)
The “Land Management and Administration Project” or LMAP is the third type of land title available in Cambodia. In conjunction with the World Bank, the program launched in 2002 and has been rolled out in selected provinces over the last decade or so. The project was designed to help implement a systematic registration system and improve the quality of information in land tenure. Similar to a hard title, an LMAP title is recognized at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (National level). Where an LMAP differs from a Hard title is an LMAP is effectively a Hard Title with Geo-tagged points – GPS coordinates clearly identifying the properties boundaries. An LMAP transfer process takes around 12 weeks, and the transfer cost is a 4% of the property’s “value” which is determined by a Cadastral official.
“Strata titles” are possession rights over property that has been given special approval allowing for co-ownership of a property by Khmer nationals and foreigners. To be granted a co-ownership title, the property must meet a number of criteria’s below:
Only applies to new buildings – 2010 onwards
Foreign ownership is limited to 70% of the total surface size of all units in the co-owned building
Can’t be a ground floor or underground floor
Can’t be within 30km of any land border
A co-ownership title is recognized at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction (National level). The transfer process takes around 12 weeks, and the transfer cost is a 4% of the property’s “value,” which is determined by a cadastral official.
The forms of property ownership in Cambodia have constantly been expanding since the government reinstated individual property ownership laws in the 90s. Overall the changes have been positive as property titles have become more detailed & secured and more recently seen significant improvements in allowances for foreign ownership.