Foreign ownership law

Foreign ownership law helping Cambodia's property recovery

Cambodia’s property market is still somewhat depressed. However, the new foreign ownership law is undoubtedly helping the property market recover.

The number of property transactions increased threefold in 2010 thanks to the new law, according to Sung Bonna, President of National Valuers Association of Cambodia (NVAC).

Foreigners are now allowed to own apartments and condominium units, but not land, and therefore not the first floor of buildings, under the new foreign ownership law approved by King Norodom Sihamoni in May 2010.  In 2010, tax revenues from property-related transactions soared 60% to KHR76.21 billion (US$19.5 million), from KHR47.7 billion (US$12.2 million) in 2009. This is still far below the level of transactions seen in 2007 and 2008 - but it is a real recovery.

In 2005, the Cambodian government amended its investment law to allow foreign ownership of buildings. However, the law was never implemented and the idea floundered, since the country was then experiencing one of the biggest property booms in Asia.

Land ownership is against the Constitution and is still out of the question. Land can however be held by foreigners on long (renewable) leases, and through majority locally-owned companies incorporated in Cambodia. These structures are argued by lawyers in Cambodia to be safer than legal schemes in any other South East Asian country in which foreign land ownership is formally prohibited.

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