• Posting names of delinquent tenants not harassment per se

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I am renting a bed space in Makati City. Our landlord is demanding that I and the other tenants pay our two months’ overdue rent. In case we fail to comply, he said, he will post the name/s of the delinquent tenants all over the building where others may see it. He did this in the past, so I think he will do it again. Is it legal for him to post the names of delinquent tenants? Is it not considered harassment?

    Dear RB,
    There exists a contractual relationship between the lessor and lessee and each of them has obligations to comply. As for the lessor, he is obliged to: (1) deliver the object of the contract in such a condition as to render it fit for the use intended; (2) make on the same during the lease all the necessary repairs in order to keep it suitable for the use to which it has been devoted, unless there is a stipulation to the contrary; and (3) maintain the lessee in the peaceful and adequate enjoyment of the lease for the entire duration of the contract. On the other hand, the lessee is obliged to: (1) pay the price of the lease according to the terms stipulated; (2) use the thing leased as a diligent father of a family, devoting it to the use stipulated; and in the absence of stipulation, to that which may be inferred from the nature of the thing leased, according to the custom of the place; and (3) pay expenses for the deed of lease (Articles 1654 and 1657, New Civil Code of the Philippines).

    Insofar as the payment of the price of the lease (rent) is concerned, it may be paid in advance within the first five (5) days of every current month or the beginning of the lease agreement, unless the contract of lease provides for a later date of payment. The lessor cannot demand more than one (1) month advance rent and neither can he demand more than two (2) months’ deposit. Should the lessee fail to settle the rent or the utility bills, or destroy the property leased, the deposits and interests therein shall be forfeited in favor of the lessor in the amount commensurate to the pecuniary damage done by the lessee (Section 7, Republic Act 9653, otherwise known as the Rent Control Act of 2009).

    Accordingly, you and your other co-lessees/tenants are bound to comply with your obligation of paying timely the rental price for the unit or space you are leasing. If you fail to do so, the lessor may first exhaust the sums on your advanced rent or deposits, should there be any. In the absence thereof, the lessor may demand from you the payment of your delinquent rentals.

    While our laws relating to lease are silent as to how demand should be made, we may take into consideration the general provisions of our civil laws. As provided under Article 19 of the New Civil Code: “Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith. ”For this reason, we believe that the act of posting notice of demand by your lessor is not, per se, a form of harassment. If it was done in good faith and merely to ensure that all concerned tenants will be actually notified, then we cannot promptly consider that as harassment. If the posting, however, was done with ill motive or for the purpose of vexing or humiliating the persons concerned, then relief may be sought from our courts.

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. 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 Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net


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