I bought a condominium unit from a real estate company payable within five years. I religiously paid the monthly amortization for three years but I failed to pay for several months when I lost my job. After getting a new job, I advised the real estate company that I will update my account but to my surprise, they sent me a letter demanding me to vacate my condominium unit. Can they do this to me? What can I do?
The right of a buyer to occupy the condominium unit he purchased arises from the contract he or she executed with the owner or developer of the condominium project. Consequently, the right of the buyer to retain the right to possess the condominium unit would depend on the subsistence of the contract.
In case of contracts involving sale of condominium units, the Subdivision and Condominium Buyers’ Protective Decree allows the seller to cancel or rescind the contract in case the buyer defaults in his or her obligation to pay the purchase price. Nevertheless, the seller has to comply with the requirements set by the law. The law states that the buyer is entitled to the rights provided by Republic Act (RA) 6552 in case he or she fails to pay the installments due for reasons other than the failure of the owner or developer to develop the project (Sec. 24, Presidential Decree No. 957). RA 6552, commonly known as the Maceda Law, in turn provides that while the seller may cancel the contract by reason of failure of the buyer to pay his or her obligation, the actual cancelation of the contract shall only take place after thirty (30) days from receipt by the buyer of the notice of cancelation or the demand for rescission of the contract by a notarial act and upon full payment of the cash surrender value to the buyer, if applicable under the circumstances (Sections 3 & 4). Thus, before the contract can be validly and effectively canceled, the seller has to comply with the requirement of sending a notarized notice of cancelation to the buyer. Moreover, if the buyer has already made installment payments for a period of at least two (2) years, the seller must refund the cash surrender value guaranteed by law before the cancelation may be effected.
Failure to comply with the above requirements would mean that the contract between the parties remains valid and subsisting. Thus, the buyer has the right to continue occupying the property and he or she may still reinstate the contract by updating the account during the grace period and before the actual cancelation of the contract (Communities Cagayan, Inc. vs. Nanol, 685 SCRA 453).
Applied to your case, your right to continue possessing the condominium unit you bought will only terminate if the real estate company has already sent you a notarized notice informing you about its decision to cancel the contract. Also, you must receive the cash surrender value considering that you have paid installment payments for at least three (3) years. If the real estate company has not yet complied with these requirements, then you still have the right, not only to possess the property, but also to update your account.
We hope you find our opinion helpful. Please bear in mind that this opinion is based on the facts you narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary should actual facts and circumstances change.
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