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Property companies in Thailand face barrage of complaints

According to the Office of the Consumer Protection Board 396 complaints against property firms were filed in the fourth quarter of last year, accounting for 39% of the total 1,004 complaints.

These complaints have risen steadily since the onset of the downturn in the property sector in the second half of last year, said general secretary Niroth Charoenprakob.

Niroth said his office tried to help property buyers whose contracts had not been observed by trying to negotiate a compromise between parties, but as a last resort it filed cases with the Civil Court. However, more than half of the complaints were settled out of court.

But the current law is on the side of developers. 'Our law doesn't give us authority to force the firms to do anything quickly. We have to help the parties reach a settlement, and if they cannot conclude a deal, we will file the case with the Civil Court to enforce the law,' he explained.

Thailand's government recently approved draft legislation to set up a new independent organisation to protect consumers' rights. According to the draft, currently being considered by the Council of State, the new organisation would have the authority to investigate businesses and protect the rights of consumers, including home buyers. It would also have the authority to file cases against businesses on behalf of individual consumers.

'We hope that the new law will come into effect in the next year and it will help to protect customers' rights,' said Niroth.