Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lessee may not legally suspend rent payment

Dear PAO,
My friend was named by his cousins as their attorney-in-fact in a Special Power of Attorney which they have executed relating to their properties here in the Philippines since they are domiciled abroad. My friend had the 2,000 square meter lot and the house leased at P2,500 a month, but there was no written contract. The problem is that the lessee has not paid the rentals since October 2012 and is even asking my friend to pay him the amount he spent for the improvements made in the properties. He warned my friend that a case will be filed against him if he will not settle the amount. What can my friend do to force the lessee to leave the properties which are the subject of the lease agreement?
Dear Pia,
Both parties in a contract of lease have respective obligations to fulfill. For one, the lessor is obliged, during the subsistence of the contract of lease, to make all the necessary repairs to the object of their contract in order to keep the same suitable for the use to which it has been devoted, unless there is a stipulation to the contrary (Article 1654 (2), New Civil Code [NCC]). In so far as the lessee is concerned, he or she is obliged, among others, to pay the price of the lease according to the terms stipulated in their contract (Article 1657 (1), NCC).
Should either the lessor or the lessee fail to comply with his or her obligation, the aggrieved party may ask for the rescission of the contract of lease and indemnification for damages, or allow the contract to remain in force but seek for indemnification for damages he has incurred (Article 1659, NCC). The lessee also has the option of suspending the payment of his rent if the lessor fails to make the necessary repairs or to maintain the lessee in peaceful and adequate enjoyment of the property leased and he may order the costs be attributable to the lessor if the latter has failed to make urgent repairs (Article 1658 and Article 1663 (4), NCC).
In the situation that you have presented before us, we cannot conclude with certainty whether your friend, as the representative of the owners of the property, is obliged to indemnify the lessee. While it may be true that certain works have been made by the lessee in the properties leased, it is not clear to us whether such were in the nature of necessary repairs. Accordingly, the lessee may not lawfully suspend the payment of his rent. Neither is there is any showing that such works were made as part of urgent repairs to the properties. Hence, the lessee may not order that the same be placed at the cost of the lessor or his representative.
Since the lessee has failed to comply with his obligation of paying the rent which has became due since October 2012, your friend may opt to file for judicial ejectment against the lessee. Pursuant to Section 9 of Republic Act No. 9653, otherwise known as the Rent Control Act of 2009, “Ejectment shall be allowed on the following grounds: x x x (b) Arrears in payment of rent for a total of three months: x x x”
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.

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