Landlady must prove in court valid reason to eject tenant

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
Our landlady demanded that we leave and find another apartment. According to her, my child is so noisy and is disturbing the other tenants. Before I signed the contract, the landlady asked if I had a child, and I said yes, in fact 2 children, a 10-year-old and a 2-year-old. Based on our contract, I did not violate any of her terms. Now, I am willing to leave, but I told her that she must pay for my expenses for moving my things, Internet connection fee and cable connection fee, but she refused. Is she correct in forcing us to leave? She only gave us a verbal notice. What should I do?
Thank you.
Edwin

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Dear Edwin,
You did not mention the amount of rent you are required to pay for your apartment. In discussing your problem, we must assume two scenarios. The first scenario is that the rent in your apartment is not more than P10,000, and the other scenario is that the rent in your apartment is more than P10,000.

In the first case, it is Republic Act (RA) 9653 or the Rent Control Act of 2009 that applies. According to Section 9 of the law, a lessor may demand the lessee to vacate the premises and file an action for judicial ejectment when there is (1) an assignment of lease or subleasing of the residential units in whole or in part, including the ac-ceptance of boarders or bedspacers, without the consent of the owner/lessor; (2) arrears in payment of rent for a total of three months; (3) legitimate need of the owner/lessor to repossess his/her share or property for his/her own use or the use of any immediate family member as a residential unit; (4) need of the lessor to make necessary repairs of the leased premises, which is the subject of an existing order of condemnation by appropriate authori-ties concerned in order to make the said premises safe and habitable; and, (5) expiration of the period of the lease contract.

On the other hand, if the rent is more than P10,000, it is the Civil Code that applies. According to Article 1673 of the Civil Code, a lessor may file for judicial ejectment relative to any of the following causes: (1) the term of the lease has expired; (2) lack of payment of the price stipulated; (3) violation of any of the conditions agreed upon in the contract; and, (4) unauthorized use or service by the lessee of the thing leased. Except on the first ground, the les-sor must make a written demand to the lessee to pay and vacate before the lessor can file an action for ejectment in court.

As you can see in both situations, the grounds apply to a judicial ejectment or an ejectment by a court order. This is because a person in possession of a property has a right to be respected in his possession, as provided in Article 539 of the Civil Code. In addition, the  article also states that “should he be disturbed therein, he shall be protected in or restored to said possession by means established by the laws and the Rules of Court.”

Article 536 of the Civil Code also states, “In no case may possession be acquired through force or intimidation as long as there is a possessor who objects thereto. He who believes that he has an action or a right to deprive an-other of the holding of a thing must invoke the aid of the competent court, if the holder should refuse to deliver the thing.”

If your lessor proves that he has a valid reason to have you ejected, he may seek help from the courts to order you to leave your apartment. But, according to your letter, none of these grounds are present in your situation wheth-er under the Civil Code or in RA 9653.

If your landlady is adamant that she wants you out of her apartment, because of your noisy child, but you did not violate any provision of your lease contract, or you did not commit any of the grounds for judicial ejectment as we have enumerated above, then you must assert your right as tenant not to be ejected from your unit. If she firmly believes that she has a right to eject you, she must seek the aid of the courts and prove that her reason is valid.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts 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 Acosata may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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