I leased my house and lot to a family for P5,000 a month. Since they failed to pay their rents for four months, they left the house. They transferred a few blocks away from my house. I have already complained them to our barangay and hearings were conducted but nothing happened. In fact, I was already issued a certificate to file action by the barangay. A last and final demand letter was sent to them but still they did not bother to pay. I want to file a case, but I don’t have enough money to pay for the services of a lawyer who will represent me in court. What shall I do?
Your right to collect the unpaid rents from your former lessee is now ripe for the filing of a civil action in court. In spite of the repeated demand to pay and the mediation conference held in your barangay, it is evident that they don’t want to pay you. Your last recourse then is to file a civil case for collection of sum of money in court.
Considering that the amount you are collecting is not more than P100,000, as the total amount of the unpaid rents for four months at P5,000 a month is only P20,000, the Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases shall apply to the case you are going to file (Section 2, A.M. No. 08-8-7-SC).
The said rule shall apply in all actions before the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts which are purely civil in nature where the claim or relief prayed for by the plaintiff is solely for payment or reimbursement of sum of money and the civil aspect of criminal action, or reserved upon the filing of the criminal action in court, pursuant to Rule 111 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure (Section 4, A.M. No. 08-8-7-SC, The Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases).
Section 5 of the said rule provides for the procedure on how to initiate small claims action, to wit:
“Section 5. Commencement of Small Claims Action. – A small claims action is commenced by filing with the court an accomplished and verified Statement of Claim (Form 1 – SCC) in duplicate, accompanied by a Certification of Non-forum Shopping (Form 1-A, SCC), and two (2) duly certified photocopies of the actionable document/s subjects of the claim, as well as the affidavits of witnesses and other evidence to support the claim. No evidence shall be allowed during the hearing which was not attached to or submitted together with the Claim, unless good cause is shown for the admission of additional evidence.
No formal pleading, other than the Statement of Claim described in this Rule, is necessary to initiate a small claims action.”
There is no need to engage the services of a lawyer since according to the said rule, lawyers are not allowed to appear on behalf of or represent a party in the abovementioned case, unless the lawyer himself is a party to the case (Section 17, A.M. No. 08-8-7-SC, The Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases).
All told, your desire to file a case against your former lessee may be done without the help of a lawyer. In fact, the rule precisely prohibits lawyers from appearing in small claims actions. By filing the case, the court may compel your former lessee to pay the unpaid rents after judiciously resolving the matter.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to guide you with our opinion on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org