What are the grounds for ejecting tenants

Many lessors have expressed concerns about leasing out residential units because of the tedious requirements of ejecting tenants who will fail to comply with their lease obligations. The same was voiced by some entrepreneurs who are having second thoughts about venturing into leasing out residential units. 

To ease their concerns, Republic Act No. 386 or the Civil Code of the Philippines, the Rules of Court of the Philippines as well as Republic Act No. 9653, or the Rent Control Act of 2009 have identified numerous grounds for ejectment.  

Grounds for ejectment

Assignment or subleasing without consent. A lessee is not allowed to assign his lease or sublet his unit, in whole or in part, including the acceptance of boarders or bed spacers, unless with the expressed written consent of the lessor. 

Violation of other terms of the lease agreement is also valid grounds for ejectment.

Rental arrears. The Civil Code, specifically Article 1673, states that the lessor may judicially eject the lessee, among others, due to… “(2) lack of payment of the price stipulated.” Meanwhile, arrears totaling three months’ rent is a grounds for ejectment per the Rent Control Act of 2009.

If the tenant pays the rent, then the cause for ejectment has been addressed. However, if the lessor refuses to accept the lessee’s payment, the latter may either deposit, by way of consignation, the amount in court, the appropriate city or municipal treasurer, barangay chairman, or in a bank in the name of and with notice to the lessor, within one month after the refusal of the lessor to accept such payment, provided further that the lessee shall thereafter deposit the rent within ten days of every current month. Failure to deposit the rent shall constitute as grounds for ejectment.

If the lessor allows or tolerates the non-payment of rent for an extended period, his action may weaken his case against the tenant.

Legitimate need. The lessor can repossess the property for his own use or any immediate member of his family, provided that the lease period has expired, has given the lessee three months advance formal notice of his intention to repossess the property, provided further that the lessor is prohibited from leasing the residential unit or allowing its use by a third party for a period of a year from the time of repossession. 

In instances where the leased premises have been sold or mortgaged, the new owner or mortgagee has no right to evict the tenant prior to the expiration of the contract period, unless with ground/s on evictions.

Repair of premises. The lessor may ask the lessee to vacate the leased premises if he needs to make necessary repairs such as when it is the subject of an order of condemnation, provided that after the repair, the lessee ejected shall be given first preference to lease, provided further that the new rent shall be reasonably commensurate with the expenses incurred for the repair. However, if the residential unit is condemned or completely demolished, the new lease will no longer be subjected to the first preference rule.

Lease expiration. The lessor has no right to evict the lessee during the duration of the lease agreement unless the tenant fails to comply with his obligations or there is a court order.  

The lessor has the right to evict the tenant only after the end of the lease period provided advance notice had been served, unless otherwise expressly provided in their contract. 

Moreover, except when the lease is for a definite period, the provision of paragraph (1) of Article 1673 of the Civil Code, insofar as they refer to the residential units covered by RA 9653, shall be suspended during the effectivity of the Rent Control Act.

Proceed with caution

No right to enter. The lessor should recognize that possession, use, and enjoyment of the leased premises passes on to his lessee during the lease period.  Thus, he has no right to enter the property, unless he is authorized or was given a special power to enter it. 

Padlocking is prohibited. Even if the lessor has a complaint against his tenant, he has no right to padlock the unit unless he is able to secure a court order. It is also against the law to change the locks of the unit without the tenant’s consent.

The lessor should always remember that he cannot forcibly evict the lessee from the leased premises, otherwise a case of grave coercion may be filed against him.

Filing of complaint. Before any case can be filed, the lessor is required to issue a demand letter/s to the lessee to either pay, address the violation, or vacate the leased premises, and the lessee fails to comply with the same within the prescribed period.

The aggrieved party should initially seek redress using the Katarungang Pambarangay or the Barangay Justice System.Barangay conciliation is a condition precedent prior to obtaining a Certificate to File (Court) Action. Failure to comply may result in the dismissal of the court case.

Ejectment cases are covered by Rules on Summary Procedure and should be filed before the appropriate Metropolitan or Municipal Trial Courts or Municipal Circuit Trial Court within a year from the time the owner or lawful possessor had been disposed of, discovery of unlawful possession of the property, or last demand to vacate the property; otherwise, the case will have to be filed as an ordinary civil action that can take longer to resolve.

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Henry L. Yap is an Architect, Fellow of both Environmental Planning and Real Estate Management. He is one of the Undersecretaries of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.