When you’re in the business of renting out apartments or houses in Manila, it is common to experience some problems with tenants especially when it comes to those who have no contracts and already falling behind in their obligation to pay the monthly rent. This problem is all the more evident with small apartment owners renting out units for only 3 to 6 thousand pesos a month.
In some cases, the tenant leaves the unit without paying for the arrears in monthly rental. The bigger problem occurs when aside from the rental arrears, there is also the problem of leaving behind unpaid electric bills and other utilities like water. It is common practice for tenants to use the deposit and advance so in the end the landlord is left with unpaid bills and arrears in rental.
When faced with this problem, you as the landlord would like to take matters in your own hands so you can get paid quickly. In fact, there were landlords who made the mistake of forcing the tenant out of the property only to face charges later on in the nature of unlawful entry, harassment, unjust vexation, and other cases. Even if you own the property and the tenant is not performing his/her obligations, you cannot just evict and force them out of your property. Just like you, they also have rights and these rights extend even when they are no longer paying the monthly rent.
So what can you do as a landlord who’s at the receiving end of the arrangement? Should you just allow the tenant to decide when to pay and when to leave the unit? While they have rights, remember that you also have yours and it is just a matter of going through proper procedures for you to finally enforce your rights as a landlord.
Below are the procedures you have to follow when you want to evict a tenant that has no existing rental contract either at the very outset or because it already expired.
1. Give a Notice to Vacate
The notice to vacate must be in writing and should outline all legal demands that you want performed by the tenant. It should include and clearly state how much is the outstanding obligation that should be paid like rental arrears, electric bills, and other utilities. Some of the essential requisites of a notice to vacate are the following:
The Notice to Vacate must have a date. Without the date in the notice, it is not clear when the tenant received the notice. There will be no starting point for the computation of the notice to vacate if there is no date specified when the notice was served.
- Copy Received
The tenant must be made to receive and given a copy of the notice to vacate. If the tenant is not in the premises, his/her spouse or partner may be asked to receive the notice instead. Make sure that the notice is not received by a house helper or minors in the house. As always, it is best that you make the tenant receive the notice personally.
- The number of days within which to pay and vacate the premises
The notice must state clearly how much time you are giving the tenant to pay the outstanding obligations as well as the period you are giving for him to leave the rented unit. It could be 5, 10, 15 or even 30 days depending on your preference. What is important is that you give the tenant a notice to vacate and to pay in writing.
The giving of notice to vacate is important and should not be overlooked. Verbal notice is not proper and does not work as a substitute to a written notice.
2. File a complaint in the Barangay
If the tenant does not want to honor the notice to vacate and its demands, your next course of action is to go to the Barangay and file a complaint. The barangay official will set a meeting between you and the tenant in the Lupon Tagapamayapa to strike an amicable settlement between the two of you. Once in the Lupon, the tenant will be forced to make a promise when to pay and vacate the rented unit. He might be given a longer period of up to 90 days as stated in the Philippine Rent Control Law or even shorter if the tenant is willing to settle his obligations earlier.
When in the Barangay Lupon, it is your right to also demand based on your desired terms. A middle ground will possibly be reached between you and the tenant. What is important is that the tenant will leave the property with all his obligations paid in full or at least based on the agreed amount. When there is mediation, the agreement is put in writing and the tenant is obligated to follow the agreement that he signed. But this is not always the case as there are tenants who are willing to ignore even the authority of the Barangay Lupon.
3. File a case at the Metropolitan Trial court
If the tenant ignored the agreement in the Barangay or did not sign any agreement to settle his obligations, the Barangay will issue a certificate that both you and the tenant did not reach an understanding. The said certificate is what you will need to go to the MTC and file a case for unlawful detainer if the tenant is still in your apartment. If the tenant is no longer in your apartment but left arrears and other monetary obligations like electric bills and other utilities, a case for collection of sum of money may need to be filed also in the MTC. The court will make you meet again and strike a settlement. If it is not possible to strike a compromise, the case will go on trial and the court will make the necessary judgment based on its appreciation of the case.
As a landlord, remember to be always patient and do not take matters into your own hands. There may be times when you want to force the tenant out but this could only get you into trouble. Tenants also know their rights but this does not mean that your rights as a landlord are subordinate to theirs. You can enforce your rights as long as you follow the required procedure. It is the problem of most landlords that when the tenant leaves the rented unit, they leave behind unsettled bills. You can prevent this from happening if you just follow the right procedure on how to evict a tenant.