Take a partly burned house and pay rent or leave it

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
We have two separate houses for rent in Cavite. Unfortunately, one house was totally burned in a fire, while the other one was only partly burned and can still be used by the lessee. What are we going to say to the lessee now that our houses were burned? They are still staying in the land and waiting for us to rebuild and fix our houses but we do not have the money to do that right now.
Jones

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Dear Jones,
It is provided under Article 1643 of the Civil Code that “in the lease of things, one of the parties binds himself to give to another the enjoyment or use of a thing for a price certain, and for a period which may be definite or indefinite. No lease for more than ninety-nine years, however, shall be valid.” In connection therewith, the lessor is obliged to: (1) deliver the thing which is 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 (Article 1654, Civil Code).

One of the obligations of the lessor, provided under Article 1654 of the  law, is to maintain the adequate enjoyment of lessee of the subject lease property. This relationship of the lessor to the lessee, however, is extinguished if the thing leased is totally destroyed by fortuitous event. If the destruction is partial, the lessee may choose between a proportional reduction of the rent and rescission of the lease (Article 1655, Civil Code).

You have stated that the two (2) houses, which are being rented, were razed by fire wherein one of them was totally burned and the other was partly destroyed. Based on the above provisions, the contract of lease between you and the lessee occupying the totally-burned house is extinguished. Thus, there is no obligation on your part to build that house for their convenience. Also, he has no right to stay in the land where the house was built while waiting for you to build another house because, as stated, the obligation and rights relating to the lease was already extinguished unless you have entered into another agreement with the lessee regarding this matter. As to the other house that was partly destroyed, the lessee may choose between the proportional reduction of rent or to rescind the lease.

We hope that we have answered your query. Our legal opinion may vary if other facts are stated 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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