Renting a house, apartment or condo in Bangkok is an easy process and you will be spoilt by choice. The hard part is deciding where to live, which we have already gone over in this guide (See Areas to Live In). Bangkok has an abundance of available accommodation for rent. You can find rental property in many ways: the internet, real estate agents or just getting out on your feet and looking around. There can, however, be a vast difference in the terms of your rental agreement depending on the type of property you choose. Below is a breakdown of the usual process for each type of property.
Apartments are residential units owned by a single company. This has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is, that it’s usually very easy to move in and out. Most companies rent their apartments short term as well as long term. If there is an available unit in the apartment, you can usually move in right away. Apartments can usually be rented on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. The longer you rent, the cheaper it will be.
You will be required to leave a deposit to cover any damage you may do to the furniture or structures. The deposit size will depend on how long you choose to stay. Stay a short time and you will leave a smaller deposit. The main difference in the contract between renting an apartment and renting a condo is utilities payment. An apartment usually charges a premium on top of the official MEA (Electric Company) rates which are 3.5 Baht/Unit. It’s not unusual to pay 5-6 Baht/Unit or even more in an apartment. This is something you need to ask for before you move in. Some apartments have a bad history when it comes to billing for utilities. Also keep in mind, that though you may seem to get a good deal on the rental price, that may be easily offset by a premium on utilities.
Apartments usually come furnished to some degree. The higher end apartments can be very tastefully furnished while the less expensive ones just have very basic furniture. In any case, you should ask about the rules regarding storage and replacement of rental furniture.
Another disadvantage is that apartments are usually not very flexible on rates and terms as they operate as a company and don’t want to do individual negotiations.
An advantage is that most apartments have their own maintenance crew that can fix problems for you fast. Their contracts are usually also easier to break. Most require only one month of notice.
Signing a contract for your apartment can be done quickly and doesn’t involve much paperwork. You will likely be asked for a copy of your passport, visa and work permit, if you have on. Then you will be given the contract to read, which most times is a standard contract. Look for the parts that has information on utilities, termination of contract and deposit agreements. Then you will sign, hand over the deposit in return for a receipt and you are ready to move in.
In conclusion, apartments have the advantage of being easy to move in and out of, but lack the freedom and options that condos provide.
Condominiums are privately owned units, though you may find condos rented by the management company itself if there is a surplus of unsold units. Condos are the most popular choice for expats as they offer the best value for money, privacy and flexibility. Since condos are rented by individuals there can be a huge difference in price, terms and quality. Where as apartments have similar rooms for similar prices, condos may have very different furnished rooms with very different price levels. That is why it’s recommended to go to the condo itself and have a look at the billboards instead of only looking at a condo advertised by a real estate agent. Things to consider are:
- What deposit is required and what are the clauses for release?
- How long is the minimum contract period?
- What is the ‘grace’ period for late payments?
- Will the landlord take care of maintenance; what is his responsibility and what is yours?
- What kind of furniture is included and can you store it somewhere else if you decide to bring in your own?
- Is there any scheduled maintenance within the contract period?
- Is there a land-line and in building phone network?
- Is there internet connection? Wi-Fi?
- Is there cleaning service for a fee in the condo?
Utilities are paid directly to the MEA and they are your responsibility to pay. You will receive the electric bill in your mailbox and the bill will be in Thai. You can usually get a local motorcycle driver to pay the bill for a fee of 100 Baht or you can pay it at any 7-11 or Family Mart (as long as it is not overdue).
When you have found a condo that you will like to rent, the first step is to pay a deposit to the landlord in return for a receipt clearly stating the terms of conditions of the deposit. There may or may not be a penalty for backing out after the deposit is paid.
The usual contract period for condo rental is 12 months, though it’s very possible to rent for both shorter and longer periods as long as the owner of the condo agrees. When you rent for a year, you should expect a discount. Somewhere along the lines of 10% seems to be the norm. You can always mention that another owner in the building offers that price.
Deposits are almost always 2 months with 1 month rent paid in advance. This also serves as last months rent.
After handing over the deposit, your next step is to do an inventory of the condo. You will both go over the furniture and appliances and note any damages to any of it. It’s important to be vigilant when going through the inventory as you can be asked to pay for any damages at the end of the contract. After you both agree on the state of the inventory you will sign an inventory form.
Next step is to actually sign the rental contract, which in most cases is a standardized western style contract. Terms and conditions may vary, so do spend some time reading it all.
The most important thing though to remember when renting a condo is that you are dealing with an individual and not a company. As such, you should use your own judgment of your landlord’s character. Some expats go from condo to condo and never experience any problems at all, while other expats always seem to get themselves in trouble. Use due diligence and don’t rush into signing a contract.
Another aspect to consider when renting a condo is the facilities available. It’s common for a condo to have a pool, gym, dry cleaner and restaurant on the premises. There may even be a hair salon and massage parlor. It’s also worth having a chat with the management to get a feel of their English ability.
Renting a house is usually the choice of expats who are looking to stay in Thailand for the long term (over 3 years). A house is a good choice for expats who have grown tired of living in an apartment and want more privacy. It’s definitely also more of a status symbol to live in a house and outwards appearance is very important for Thais. Finding a suitable house is half the battle. Most Thai houses are of the townhouse variety and meant for large Thai families. That means many rooms and a lot of upkeep, but let us assume that you have managed to find a house to rent. What should you be looking for? It’s easy to be distracted once you are invited into a fully furnished house that people actually live in (houses are rarely vacant in between renters). Still, these are the questions you should ask:
- Do all the rooms have air conditioning?
- Is there a water pump in the house?
- How many amps is the electricity?
- Is there a risk of flooding in the rainy season?
- How is security?
The process of renting a house is much like renting a condo as you are dealing with an individual landlord, so refer to that section for specifics. There are some unique things about renting a house, mainly related to maintenance. It’s even more important to be on good terms with your landlord when you are renting a house, than it is with a condo. A house naturally needs a lot of maintenance and your landlord should be easy to deal with in terms of assisting with maintenance issues.
Price Range of Rental Property:
Central Business District:
Studio – 10,000-20,000 Baht
1 Bedroom – 15,0000-40,000 Baht
2 Bedroom – 25,000-60,000 Baht
3 Bedroom – 40,000-100,000+ Baht
The most expensive areas to rent are the Ploenchit, Chitlom, Phrom Phong and Thong-Lor areas followed by Ekamai, Phra Kanong and On Nut. Generally, the further out the BTS you get, the cheaper condo’s you can find. It’s possible to find very good condos even in areas with low rent apartments.
A 1 bedroom condo may cost 15,000 Baht in On Nut but cost 25,000 Baht or more in Thong Lor. Location is the biggest factor in price. Thai style apartments can usually be found in all areas at much cheaper prices, but they are usually not up to western standards.