Before you move into your dream home, it’s important to take a second look at your lease—you need to be careful about contract loopholes, bouncing cheques and clever agents. To help you avoid getting duped, we've listed down some questions you might have in mind and sought the help of Atty. Tricia Villar to shed light on your concerns:
Q: Is the deposit the same as the advance?
A: The deposit is the landlord's form of security. It's meant to answer for unpaid rent and damages you as tenant may cause on the leased premises. It will be returned to you at the end of the lease contract after any charges have been deducted. The advance is just rent paid early.
Q: What if I can't make payments?
A: The landlord can have you evicted by filing a court case. As a general rule, the landlord may file the case only after demanding that to pay, vacate his property, and if you fail to comply within five days or the period stated in your contract.
Q: Who repairs broken pipes?
A: The landlord. This falls under wear and tear that he must answer for. It's his job to keep the property safe and fit to live in. (This includes pest control.) If the landlord refuses to make repairs, you may suspend paying rent until repairs are made or make immediate repairs charged to the landlord.
Q: I want to install a heater in the bathroom. Is it okay to do this and can the landlord pay for it?
A: Check if your contract allows you to make leasehold or practical home improvement (pipes, exhaust fans, doorbells, laundry area, etc.) Your landlord may pay you half the cost of the improvement. Otherwise, remove it when the lease expires.
Q: What about a new glass door? Should the landlord shoulder it?
A: This is an ornamental upgrade, which the landlord isn't obliged to reimburse. A new pocket garden, blinds, rug, or mirror would fall under beautification. When your lease expires, such enhancements may be removed only if doing so wouldn't damage the property. The landlord may also keep these enhancements by paying you what they're worth at the end of the lease. If your contract doesn't mention improvements, ask permission from your landlord first.
Q: Can the landlord enter my apartment anytime to check on it?
A: The law doesn't limit how often a landlord can inspect it, but of course he should do so at a reasonable time.
Q: My friend wants to use the studio I've been renting when I leave for a trip. Can I rent this out to her?
A: You can sublease your apartment to your friend as long as your contract doesn't prohibit it. In this case, your friend will be directly liable not only to you but also to the original landlord.
Q: I subleased the property I was renting and now the windowpane is broken. Who pays for it?
A: For damages made to the property, the landlord can directly charge the sublessee (the person who's been renting from you). The landlord can also directly hold the sublessee liable for any rent due.
Q: I have a three-year lease on my apartment. But I found a bigger unit closer to work. Can I move out earlier than the lease expiration date?
A: Yes, but you may have to continue paying rent until the lease contract expires or pay damages for pre-terminating the lease.
Q: My landlord sold the condo I've been renting. Can the new owner evict me? How do I protect myself?
A: The buyer can evict you if he wasn't made aware of the agreement between you and your landlord (to honor your lease contract upon sale of the condo). To prevent eviction, have your lease contract annotated on the title of the property before the Registry of Deeds at the district where your condo is situated.
Read the original article (Your Tenant Rights) in the July 2004 issue of Real Living Magazine.
This story originally appeared on Realliving.com.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors.