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Investing in Cambodia: Expatriate Property Rights

In Cambodia, since 1993, all real estate and land ownership is strictly forbidden to foreigners. However, some legal adjustments are possible to allow this type of acquisition. 

Foreign nationals are now allowed to own certain properties in Cambodia, often apartments. Their rights are limited to buildings that have obtained a right of possession, the right of stratum, which allows a property to be owned by both Cambodians and foreigners, being divided into several properties that can be sold individually. Foreigners can only own 70% of the total area of all the rooms in a condominium and they cannot buy other rooms on the ground floor. This right is generally granted to new buildings. 

To use or control land here are some possible options to circumvent restrictions.

1. You can purchase land through a Cambodian company. Private or public land can be rented by foreign companies. A company under Cambodian law may acquire land, but foreign shareholders may only hold 49% of the shares, with the remaining 51% to be held by one or more Cambodian shareholders.

2. You can enter into a lease agreement (you can lease land between 15 and 50 years, with the possibility of extension.) Leases over 15 years are considered long-term leases, have a real right and are registered. This right may be assigned, divided, sublet or given as a guarantee.

3. You can become a Cambodian citizen after living in the country for at least 7 years and speaking Khmer fluently, or by making an expensive donation (the Prime Minister will have to approve any application).

4. You can purchase a piece of land through a Cambodian representative: the nominee contract (the owner will lease the land to you and you will sign a trust agreement giving you the right to control it.) This practice is sometimes tolerated but normally prohibited by the constitution and therefore legally dangerous. The investment must therefore be short-term and of low value.

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