One of the reasons why you decided to work overseas is because you want to have your own home. This is also the reason why you are taking multiple jobs while overseas to make sure that you can send money back home and save a few more for your future dream home.
If you haven’t fulfilled that yet, then that’s fine. Renting your own place could be an alternative – for now. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced you to go back home and wait for travel restrictions to ease to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.
Since you lost your main source of income, which also means there will be difficulty in paying the rent, the question now is this: can your landlord evict you from the place you and your family are staying?
What are your rights as a tenant?
As a tenant, your rights are protected under the Rent Control Act of 2009. Some of your rights include:
- Limit On Rent Increase – Although landlords can impose an increase in rent every year, there is a limitation as to how much the increase can be. Rent increase should be anywhere between two and 11 percent and must only be imposed once a year.
- No To Excessive Deposit And Advance – Under the said law, landlord can collect not more than two months deposit and one month advance rent or a total of three months. This security deposit must be kept under the landlord’s account and will be returned to the tenant upon expiration of contract. Take note that these deposits and advance may be used by the landlord to compensate for losses such as failure to pay rental fee, unpaid utility bills, and/or damage to the property.
- Eviction Must Be Legal – Eviction is allowed when there is a justifiable reason.
When can a tenant be evicted?
The law allows landlords to evict tenants for the following reasons:
- Expiration of Lease Contract. At this point, landlord has the option not to renew the tenant, especially those who are unruly and delinquent.
- Overdue rental payments for at lease three months.
- Necessary house repairs to ensure that the place is suitable and viable for living. In this case, the evicted tenant is given the priority to rent the place should s/he wishes to.
- Subleasing the entire or a part of the leased property without the owner’s consent.
- The owner or landlord will legitimately use the rented property. In this case, landlord must give notice to the tenant at least three months before the expiration of contract.
That being said, what constitutes illegal eviction?
- If the landlord or owner decided to sell or mortgage the leased property, the new owner has to respect the existing lease contract. More importantly, the new owner cannot evict the tenant unless there is a justifiable reason.
- Violating the Anti-Covid-19 Discrimination ordinance, particularly in Makati, Quezon City, Manila, Muntinlupa, and Pasig City. Landlord cannot evict the tenant regardless if you are infected or is suspected to have Covid-19. Consequently, healthcare workers cannot be evicted from leased property.
- Failure to pay the rent during quarantine and grace periods are not grounds for eviction.
In case any of these situations happened, make sure you talk to your landlord first so you could come up with an amicable solution. Otherwise, you can request assistance from the barangay, which has the authority to settle disputes involving landlord and rental rights.
DTI Memorandum Circular 20-12
Under the said circular of the Department of Trade and Industry and pursuant to the Bayanihan Heal as One Act, property owners cannot evict tenants in ECQ, MECQ, and GCQ areas for failure to pay rental fee. There is also a mandatory 30-day grace period for tenants to start paying their rental fee.
The said circular also states that unpaid rents during the quarantine period can be settled in six monthly installments without penalties, interest, additional fees, and other charges.
Further, landlord must inform the tenant regarding the option to pay in installments.
Refusal to comply by the landlord could result to imposition of fine, jail time of two months, or both. As a tenant, you can also inform DTI regarding the illegal eviction practice so that appropriate criminal case can be filed to the landlord.
This is an extraordinary time for everyone, including landlords and tenants. At this point, it is best to keep an open communication with your landlord so you can negotiate and compromise. While you’re struggling to pay the rent, surely, your landlord is also in need of the rental payments to make ends meet.
As what they say, lahat madadaan sa magandang usapan.