• Two months of unpaid rent no reason to eject lessee

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I’d like to seek your advice regarding my residential unit that is being rented and occupied by my lessee. I have an agreement with the lessee that the lease period for my property is for one year only. We are only halfway through our contract but my lessee has already failed to pay her rent for two consecutive months. I’d like to know if I can already remove her from my unit because she is not paying right. Also, I already need my leased residential unit because my son who is working abroad is already set to return here soon. Can I also use this as a reason to eject my lessee? Please advice me on what I can do about this. Thank you!

    Dear Dingo,
    The answer to your questions is found in Republic Act (RA) 9653 or the Rent Control Act of 2009. This law provides rules on rental of residential units as part of our state’s program to encourage the development of and at the same time to protect affordable housing for lower-income brackets.

    In detail, RA 9653 covers all residential units in the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila) and other highly urbanized cities, with a total monthly rent that ranges from One peso (P1.00) to Ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00) and a total monthly rent ranging from One peso (P1.00) to Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) for all residential units in all other areas (Section 5, RA 9653).

    Under this law, a residential unit is defined and is considered to include:

    “…apartment, house and/or land on which another’s dwelling is located and used for residential purposes and shall include not only buildings, part or units thereof used solely as dwelling places, boarding houses, dormitories, rooms and bedspaces offered for rent by their owners, except motels, motel rooms, hotels, hotel rooms, but also those used for home industries, retail stores or other business purposes if the owner thereof and his or her family actually live therein and use it principally for dwelling purposes” (Section 3, RA 9653).

    In relation to your problem, RA 9653 provides for grounds and conditions to judicially eject a lessee. According to this law, the failure of the lessee to pay rent for a total of three (3) months is a ground for his judicial ejectment (Section 9B, RA 9653). Considering this, you still cannot eject your lessee since you stated that your lessee has only two (2) months’ worth of unpaid monthly rent, which is still less than the cited prescribed total of unpaid rent to judicially eject a lessee. Despite this, you may remind your lessee of her obligation to pay her rent and inform her that she may be judicially ejected if she is still unable to pay her monthly dues for three (3) months in total.

    With regard to your need to have your son occupy the currently rented unit of your lessee, RA 9653 recognizes the personal need of the lessor or his immediate family over the leased property as a ground to eject a lessee. The law, however, provides for certain specific conditions before a lessor can use this aforementioned ground to eject a lessee. One of these conditions is that the lease period on the subject property has already expired. The other condition is that the owner/lessor is prohibited from leasing the subject residential unit or allowing its use by a third party for a period of at least one (1) year from the time of repossession (Section 9c, RA 9653).

    Therefore, because you mentioned that the lease period for your rented property is for a period of one year and that you are currently only halfway through the lease period, then you may not yet avail of the ground of personal use to eject your lessee since the lease period is yet to expire. And even if you may already repossess the leased unit for personal use, you must note the prohibition against leasing it to other people within a period of one year. In the meantime, it is best that you continue to remind your lessee on her rental obligations and warn her on the possible legal implications of her continuous delay in rent payments.

    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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