Cambodian Property Titles: Everything You Need to Know

Various forms of title ownership available in Cambodia.

The forms of property ownership in Cambodia have been constantly 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.

So what titles are available and what do they actually mean?


Cambodian-Property-Titles
Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction in Monivong St.

SOFT TITLE

Soft titles are the most common form of ownership with some estimating up to 85% of all property held in Cambodia held under a soft 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.

HARD TITLE

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 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.

LMAP

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.

CO-OWNERSHIP | STRATA TITLE

“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 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 Cambodian property market and the Laws governing land and buildings continue to evolve. Whether you are a Khmer national or foreign purchaser, there are a number of ways in which to secure your investment. We will look at these structures in detail over our next articles.

17 thoughts on “Cambodian Property Titles: Everything You Need to Know

  1. Graham says:

    In Sihanoukville we are still waiting for more than 3 years for lawyers to be able to do the strata titles. We hear it is possible in P Penh but then local lawyers tell us the laws for this are not fully drawn out. They just tell us to wait month after month! There are lots of Condo developments appearing in SHV but I’m beginning to think the laws are never going to come here and I will never get my apartment in my name strata title. We just have agreement papers from the land owner (Khmer/American educated) who luckily we trust and is a kind of business partner.

    • Grant says:

      Hi Graham, your story is not an uncommon one as the processing of strata titles is still new here and it takes time. Did you buy a property off the plan or was has it already been completed? If you bought off the plan, the Strata Title can only be issued once the project is complete, so you won’t get your title before the condo is handed over. Even here is Phnom Penh there have been long processing times on issuing Strata Titles so I wouldn’t be too worried about the delays.

  2. Graham says:

    As I said we have been waiting 3 years. This means the building was completed 3 years back. We have been trying to get the lawyers to to the titles but no one can. Have any more changes to the laws been made lately? A while back it was published in one newspaper, to attract investors and long term stayers with capital, it would be made easier to buy property, even land as a foreigner. But all I have seen is one step forward and two steps back.

  3. John says:

    Is there tax applied when converting a soft title into a hard title? Officials here want to apply a 4% tax for titles issued under the national program for “free” titles

    • Grant says:

      Hi John, that’s correct, there is a 4% transfer fee when converting a soft title to a hard title. This fee also also to converting soft titles to “free”/L Map titles.

  4. Johanna says:

    Hi Grant just wondering if the land price of a property is higher when is transferred from soft to hard title in Cambodia. Thank you.

    • Grant says:

      Hi Joh, from my experience the price impact on a property following a transfer from soft to hard title is actually quite minimal. I actually have some buyers who prefer soft title property as it’s much cheaper and faster to transfer (relative to hard title properties).

  5. Pual poon says:

    hi Grant
    what are the procedures and documents required by the local council for transfering ownership of a plot of land with soft title?

    • Grant says:

      Hi Paul, the process for transferring soft title and hard title property here is quite straight forward. Essentially an appointment is made with the Sangkat who brings the official title transfer documents, the buyer/seller are required to bring their personal identification (Cambodian ID card), family book, relationship status certificate (married or single) and the original title (brought by the seller). All this information is checked by the Sangkat official who then fills out the transfer documents, which are then thumb printed by the seller and buyer. This process is usually done in under an hour.

  6. Chris says:

    Hi Grant,
    Thanks for your interesting and helpful article.
    My mother-in-law (Cambodian) wants to transfer her land into my wife’s name. Do you know if there are trustworthy agents that can assist in this non-sale transfer?
    Thanks again,
    Chris

  7. jenny says:

    Hi Grant,
    I want to buy a condo from the owner(second hand), could you tell me how to transfer the ownership of the property soft title?

  8. Concerned says:

    My wife and I are both Cambodian citizens and are buying some vacant land in sihanoukville that is costing around $48,000.00 . I assume the 4% transfer fee is up to the buyer to pay ( thats us) but now they are talking a fee for processing of ownership papers . Would’nt the 4% fee include that ?
    Also what about yearly property taxs , are they a reality now ?

    • Grant says:

      Hi There,

      Normally all transfer fees (the 4% transfer tax and transfer fee) are paid by the seller unless specifically negotiated otherwise – this is standard practice in Cambodia. There are actually two fees involved in the transfer, the processing fee (as they are now asking you for) and the transfer tax. So there is nothing unusual going on here. Yearly property taxes are in effect for hard title properties and usually the owner is charged approximately 1-2% of the property value (the valuation is done by the Ministry of Land Management). I would estimate the yearly tax for your property to be around $300/year. Anything else please drop me a line at grant@ips-cambodia.com.

    • Grant says:

      Hi Leen,

      It’s not a problem to split a title when selling a property. The Ministry will charge the normal transfer fees and taxes applicable for a standard property sale for splitting the title. This is in addition to the property transfer fees and taxes for the the piece of property being sold. If preferred, the title split can be done at the same time as the title transfer for the sale takes place, you just have to inform the Ministry of your requirements and they will assist with the forms and process.

      Anything else please let me know.

      Grant

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