Safety concerns allow owners to eject apartment lessees

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I would like to ask about the decision of the owner of the apartment we are renting to eject us from our rented unit. We have been renting the unit for almost a decade already, and we pay our rental dues regularly. The apartment owner cited renovation and repair of parts of the building that are allegedly considered fire hazards by City Hall. While I understand the safety concerns, I want to confirm if this is a legal reason to force us to leave our apartment. We hope for your advice. Thank you!         
Katlyn

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Dear Katlyn,
It appears from your narration that your lessor may have a legal ground to eject you from your rented apartment. Although the law generally protects the right of the lessees for the peaceful occupancy of a leased property, there are certain instances when the law allows the lessors to eject the lessees for reasons aside from failure to pay rent.

The law that applies to your concern is Republic Act (RA) 9653 or the Rent Control Act of 2009. This law provides regulations and guidelines in the rent of residential units. It also specifies grounds to legally eject lessees that include the provision applicable to your situation. According to this law:

“SEC. 9. Grounds for Judicial Ejectment. – Ejectment shall be allowed on the following grounds:

xxx

(d) Need of the lessor to make necessary repairs of the leased premises which is the subject of an existing order of condemnation by appropriate authorities concerned in order to make the said premises safe and habitable: Provided, That after said repair, the lessee ejected shall have the first preference to lease the same premises: Provided, however, That the new rent shall be reasonably commensurate with the expenses incurred for the repair of the said residential unit and: Provided, finally, That if the residential unit is condemned or completely demolished, the lease of the new building will no longer be subject to the aforementioned first preference rule in this subsection; xxx” ( Section 9, Par. D, RA 9653) Emphasis supplied.

As mentioned in this law, the need for necessary repairs of the leased property by order of proper authorities justifies the decision of the lessor to ask you to vacate your rented property regardless of whether you are updated on your rent payments. Because of this, if you can confirm that there is indeed an order from the authorities to repair the leased property, then you will have to abide by this since aside from being a lawful order sanctioned by the law, this is ultimately for your own safety as well.

Please note, however, that while the lessor may legally eject you based on the aforementioned ground, the law entitles you to be the first preference of the lessor in a new lease of the repaired unit that you are renting. Thus, if ever you will be ejected for the repair of your leased property, this can be temporary since you may rent it again once it is renovated and available to be leased again.

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 enlighten you 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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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