• A contract is a contract—even between friends

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My brother allowed his friend to stay in one of his apartments for a minimal cost from April 2013 until March 2014 as he was having his house fixed due to a typhoon at the time. Since they have known each other for a very long time and they have been living in the same barangay for years now, my brother did not hesitate to let his friend occupy the apartment. Before the end of March 2014, my brother reminded him that he needs to vacate the apartment because he and his family need to live there since they will have their own house, which is only beside that apartment, renovated. His friend refused to vacate and until now he is still staying in the apartment with his live-in partner. I just want to ask if there is any case that my brother can file against his friend. I hope you can enlighten us.

    Dear Sara88,
    What exists between your brother and his friend is a contract of lease, whereby he bound himself to give to his friend the enjoyment or use of his apartment in exchange for the payment of a certain sum.

    Given that their contract is for a specific period or until March 2014, it is presumed that said contract concludes upon the arrival of the period agreed upon. It is not even necessary for him to demand in order to declare his friend in delay. Pursuant to Article 1169 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, “Those obliged to deliver or to do something incur in delay from the time the obligee judicially or extra-judicially demands from them the fulfillment of their obligation. x x x However, the demand by the creditor shall not be necessary in order that delay may exist: (1) When the obligation or the law expressly so declares; x x x”

    Accordingly, your brother may file an unlawful detainer or ejectment case against his friend before the Municipal or Metropolitan Trial Court, which has jurisdiction over the place where he resides. Section 9 (e) of Republic Act (RA) 9653, or the Rent Control Act of 2009, expressly recognizes expiration of the period of the lease contract as one of the valid grounds for filing judicial ejectment.

    Nevertheless, we would like to emphasize that your brother must first bring his legal predicament before their barangay for barangay conciliation considering that he and his friend are residents of the same barangay. As provided for under Section 412 of RA 7610, which provides that, “(a) No complaint, petition, action or proceeding involving any matter within the authority of the lupon shall be filed or instituted directly in court, unless there has been a confrontation between the parties before the lupon chairman or the pangkat, and that no conciliation or settlement has been reached as certified by the lupon or pangkat secretary or unless the settlement has been repudiated by the parties thereto. x x x”

    We hope that we were able to address your concern. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

    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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