Apartment rental fees were one of the many topics raised by Pinoys online during the year-long lockdowns. A lot of breadwinners lost their sources of income when COVID-19 decimated businesses, while others had to contend with lesser take-home pay because of shortened working days. This resulted to unpaid house rent for months on end, while others were reportedly evicted by their landlords after they failed to settle their dues even after the lockdowns have been lifted.
I took a long, hard look at this topic and decided it is not only timely, but might also be helpful, to talk (or in my case, write!) about it now. So, I did my research and here are the things I learned from lawyers’ websites and news articles in Yahoo! about renting in the Philippines and the laws that govern this business.
I hope you find value in my short research. Read on.
Two laws that regulate residential and commercial leases in the Philippines
- Rent Control Act in the Philippines (RA 9653)
- This is the law that protects housing tenants against unreasonable rent increases.
- It covers housing units with a monthly rent of up to Php 10,000 in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized cities nationwide.
- Housing units covered by RA 9653 are:
- Boarding houses, bed spaces, dormitories, and rooms for rent
- Houses and/or land
- Civil Code of the Philippines
- Lease provisions that cover rentals above Php 10,000, commercial spaces, and rent-to-own units.
Rights of a Tenant in the Philippines:
- Limit on rent increases.
Below are the prescribed increases based on the monthly rent and occupancy:
|Monthly Rent||Maximum Rent Increase|
|P4,999 and below||2% only, once per year|
|P5,000 to P8,999||7% as long as the unit is occupied by the same tenants|
|P9,000 to P10,000||11% as long as the unit is occupied by the same tenants|
The Rent Control Act allows landlords to increase rents only once a year for bed spaces, boarding houses, dorms, and rooms leased to students. A landlord cannot increase his rent twice in a year, especially when the space is rented out to two different tenants within the same year.
2. No charging of excessive deposits and advance rent
Remember: Not more than two-month deposit and not more than one-month advance is all you need to pay in advance when renting a new place.
When the contract expires, the deposit and the interest it earned, plus any remaining balance from the advance rent should be returned to the tenant unless there are dues incurred by the tenant that need to be settled such as:
- unpaid rent
- utility bills
- damages to any part of the property
3. No eviction without legal ground.
Your landlord should be able to provide you with a specific reason for eviction, if and when. You cannot be evicted for unjust reasons.
In the Philippines, you can be evicted for the following reasons:
- Subleasing the property – you rent out a portion of the space to another person without seeking permission from the landlord.
- Overdue rental payments – non-payment of monthly rent for three months or more.
- Owner’s legitimate need to use the property. – In this case, the tenant can be evicted only after the lease contract expires (no force eviction). You should also be given a formal notice to vacate the property three months in advance.
- Necessary house repairs.
- Lease contract expiration.
When is eviction illegal?
- Sale or mortgage of the property.
- If the landlord has sold or mortgaged the leased unit to a third party, the landlord or the new owner cannot evict the tenant.
- If you are a COVID-19 patient or frontliner.
- Failure to pay rent and other reasons during the quarantine period and grace period.
- Property owners cannot evict tenants in ECQ, MECQ, and GCQ areas from the start of the quarantine until the end of the mandatory 30-day grace period (which starts from the last due date of rent or from the lifting of the quarantine, whichever is longer.)
- Landlords who refuse to comply with the grace period could be fined at least P10,000, jailed for at least two months, or both.
What should I do if my tenant rights are violated?
- Try to negotiate with your landlord to avoid legal squabbles.
- If this does not work, seek the assistance of your barangay chairman or lupon.
Of course, it is always right to read your lease contract so you fully understand what you are getting yourself into before signing and moving in. Keep a copy of the contract in your files, as well as the receipts for your monthly payments. Keep an open and respectful communication line with your landlord, and treat his house/apartment as if it were your own: keep it clean all the time and report any damages such as leaks, broken tiles, and the like.
The policies on COVID-19 may have already changed by this time as Bayanihan 1 and 2 are long done by now. Just the same, review your contract’s provisions with your landlord in case you still have questions about any privileges you may have missed during the quarantine.