For 11 years, we had been renting a house. Since we occupied the property, we had not been remiss in paying our monthly rentals. However, just recently, our landlord talked to my parents and told them that they are selling the house we are renting— they need money because they are going to the United States. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, we cannot afford to move because of the required one month advance and one month deposit. The owner is rushing us to move the soonest possible time. My question is, can we be forcibly taken out?
Dear Concerned Lessee,
In the contract of lease, one of the parties binds himself to give to another person the enjoyment or use of the thing for a price certain for a period which may either be definite or indefinite. The contract of lease is governed by Title VIII of the New Civil Code (NCC). A contract of lease is described as a consensual contract, the purpose of which is to allow the enjoyment or use of a thing for a fee. Like any other contract, it is primarily governed by the agreement between the lessor and the lessee. The term may be definite or with a period but not to exceed more than ninety-nine (99) years (Article 1642, NCC).
The period of lease depends either on the agreement of the parties or on the provisions on lease in the absence of an agreement of the parties. If a lease is entered into for a determinate time, it ceases upon the day fixed, even without the need of demand. If at the end of the contract the lessee should continue to enjoy the thing leased for fifteen (15) days with the acquiescence of the lessor, and unless a notice to the contrary by either of the parties has previously been given, it is understood that there is an implied new lease, not for the period of the original contract, but for the time established in Articles 1682 and 1687 of the NCC. The other terms of the original contract shall be revived. However, if the period has not been fixed or the same is vague and uncertain, the period of the lease depends upon the period of payment of the rent. If the rent is paid yearly, it is understood that the lease is from year to year, if the rent is paid monthly, then the lease is considered from month to month.
The contract of lease ends upon the expiration of the period even without demand, but for the purpose of filing an action for unlawful detainer, demand is necessary. From the facts that you have stated, it is clear that your lessor’s purpose is to put an end to the lease and recover possession of the house that you are renting. Your landlord has the right to demand from you to vacate the property. As a lessee, your occupation of the leased premises is just temporary and your refusal after your lessor’s demand on you to vacate the premises would make your stay on the property unlawful and it will give rise to an action for unlawful detainer which your landlord may file against you.
However, your landlord cannot forcibly evict you from the house. If you refuse to vacate the house upon his demand, he can file a case for Unlawful Detainer against you in any of the Metropolitan Trial Courts (MTCs) of the place where the house is located. Unlawful detainer is the action that is brought when possession by a landlord of any land or building is being unlawfully withheld after the expiration or termination of the right to hold possession.
If your landlord will forcibly evict you and your family, you have the right to file a case for grave coercion against him. Nonetheless, in order not to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation and go through the trouble of answering the case filed against you in court, it is best for you to look for another place. You may ask your landlord to give you a little more time to look for a place to rent.
We hope that we were able to address your query. Please be reminded that the above legal opinion is solely based on our appreciation of the problem that you have stated. The opinion may vary when other facts are included 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 email@example.com