Before contract signing, lessee can ask lessor to shoulder repairs

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I want to consult you about the apartment we are about to rent. We are being asked by the owner to cause the installation of a new ceiling since it is already dilapidated. Aside from the repair we have to undertake, we are to pay two months’ deposit and one month advance rent. I am in a quandary if it is our obligation to install a new ceiling. Can we demand the owner to do the repair? Thank you.
Kim

Dear Kim,
We understand that you are about to enter into a Contract of Lease with the owner of the apartment you intend to rent. In the lease of things, one of the parties binds himself to give to another the enjoyment or use of a thing for a price certain, and for a period which may be definite or indefinite (Article 1643, New Civil Code).

The owner of the apartment is to be called the “lessor” and you who are to rent the apartment are the “lessee.” To determine the obligations and rights of each one of you, it is important for you, the lessee, to review the stipulations contained in the contract, if there is one. Otherwise, the law that will govern your relationship is the Law on Lease under the New Civil Code of the Philippines.

For discussion purposes, we will assume that there is no written contract between you and the owner of the apartment. Thus, the law on lease applies.


Article 1654 of the law dictates the obligations that a lessor must assume, to wit:

“Article 1654. The lessor is obliged:

(1) To deliver the thing which is the object of the contract in such a condition as to render it fit for the use intended;

(2) To make on the same during the lease all the necessary repairs in order to keep it suitable for the use to which it has been devoted, unless there is a stipulation to the contrary; and

(3) To maintain the lessee in the peaceful and adequate enjoyment of the lease for the entire duration of the contract.”

It appears that one of the obligations of the lessor is to make all the necessary repairs in the thing to be leased. These repairs are to be done during the lease. Nevertheless, it would not be contrary to law if in your case, you will ask the owner of the apartment to install a new ceiling even before the commencement of your lease contract. The installation of the ceiling is a repair that is necessary in order to keep the apartment suitable for the use to which it has been devoted. The apartment would definitely not be a conducive place to live in if it has a dilapidated ceiling.The purpose of a lease contract, which is the enjoyment or use of a thing for a certain price, would not then be fulfilled. Thus, we deem it necessary for you to demand from the lessor the installation of a new ceiling as early as now in order that the expenses of the same will be settled between you and the owner of the apartment pointing out to the latter that it is his/her obligation to install a new ceiling.

On the contrary, although it is the obligation of the owner of the apartment to make the necessary repairs, nothing can prevent both of you in entering into an agreement for you to bear the cost of the installation of the new ceiling, subject to your right to reimbursement depending on your agreement with the lessor. This is based on the principle of mutuality of contracts under the New Civil Code of the Philippines.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter. Please take note however, that all the information contained herein are based on our appreciation of the facts you provided us with. A different legal opinion may be given if other facts not included in your query will be discussed.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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