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Understanding the Rent Control Act of 2009 by Jillian CariolaPublished: May 22, 2014Updated: September 3, 2015

Thinking about renting a home? Learn about the different provisions of the Rent Control Act of 2009 before saying ‘yes’ to that lease agreement.

To many Filipinos, living in a rental is a better alternative to owning a house for reasons like being financially unfit to buy a house and constantly moving from one location to another. Although renting does have a lot of benefits, things can quickly go south when legal issues get in the way of a good lessor-lessee relationship.

Republic Act No. 9653, a.k.a. the Rent Control Act of 2009, sets certain ground rules for lessors (the landlords) and lessees (the renters) so that neither one’s rights get violated. To give you an idea of how the RA works, here are a few FAQs that you might find useful.

(Set to expire on December 2013, the Rent Control Act of 2009 has been extended by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) for an additional two years.)

Can my lessor raise my rent whenever he wants?
That depends. RA 9653 puts certain limitations as to how often and by how much lessors can increase rent. Lessors can only raise the rent by up to 7% annually if the unit is being occupied by the same lessee. Also, this only applies to residential units within NCR and other highly urbanized cities whose maximum monthly rent is Php 10,000, as well as other areas with rental rates not exceeding Php 5,000 a month.

A one month advance payment and two months deposit seems a bit much, doesn’t it?
Sorry, the law’s on the lessor’s side on this one, but that same law is also what’s preventing them from asking more than that, so anyone who requires two months advance rent is asking for trouble.

I really want the option to buy the property I’m renting. How do I go about it?
The lessor has the option to offer their property on a rent-to-own agreement, but make sure you have it in writing. Also, be aware that by entering this type of agreement, you won’t be covered by the rent cap stated above (a limit of 7% increase each year) anymore.

My apartment building’s been sold to someone else. Should I be worried about being evicted?
Not at all. Neither the lessor nor his successor-in-interest can ask you to leave just because the property has been sold or mortgaged to another person, regardless of whether or not the lease or mortgage is registered.

The place I’m renting has an extra bedroom I’m not using. Can I rent that out?
Unless you’ve secured the written consent of the owner or lessor of the property, subleasing is a big no-no and can get you evicted.

My lessor’s giving me only a month to find a new place to live because his cousin wants to use it. Can I file a complaint?
Absolutely. If the lessor needs the unit for personal use or for the use of relatives, he needs to give you a formal notice three months before his intent to repossess his unit. Also, the relative that will occupy the property has to be an immediate member of the lessor’s family (a spouse, or parents or children related to him by blood or marriage).

Can the lessor kick me out if I haven’t paid the rent?
Yes, but only if you’ve missed a total of three months of rental payments.

My lessor’s asking me to leave because he says he needs to fix it, but I have my doubts. Can he do this?
The lessor can evict you if he has to make necessary repairs to make the rental safe and habitable, but the order of condemnation has to come from appropriate authorities. Here’s a bit of good news: if you want to rent the property again once the repairs are done, you get first preference.

I’ve reached the end of my lease and the lessor won’t give me back my deposit! What gives?
Before you yell at the lessor, ask yourself these two questions: a) did you take good care of the property, and b) did you pay off all of your utility bills? By law, the lessor is required to return your deposits and any interests it incurred at the end of your lease. However, if you leave the property destroyed or if you didn’t settle your electricity bills, the lessor can keep the deposits in the amount that’s equal to the damage or unpaid bills you left behind.

Knowing your rights as a lessee is the first step to protecting yourself from abusive lessors. Before signing a lease agreement, study it carefully and make sure nothing in it breaks the provisions of the Rent Control Act of 2009. Still, the Act doesn’t give you the right to do just about anything you want. To keep the peace with your lessor, you have to be a responsible lessee too.

 

Sources: foreclosurephilippines.com, inquirer.net

 

(Photo by MarkMoz/Flickr Creative Commons)

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