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No freeze on rent: Palace

There is currently no rent freeze for residential tenants struggling financially amid the prevailing pandemic, Malacañang said yesterday.

However, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that lessors are still mandated to comply with the 30-day grace period for commercial rents, under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act, or Bayanihan 2.

“There’s no freeze in rental. What Bayanihan 1 or 2 provide is a reprieve in the payment of rent,” he said in a Palace press briefing.

He also pointed out that there are current laws, such as Republic Act 9653, or the Rent Control Act of 2009, that protects poor and middle-class tenants from unreasonable rent increases.

“We have the ongoing rental which limits increases on rent,” he said.

RA 9653 states that the lessor is not allowed to increase the rent by more than 7 percent annually if the unit is occupied by the same tenant. The lessor is only allowed to change the rate for new tenants once the unit becomes vacant.

Lessors whose units are dormitories, bed spaces, or boarding houses that are rented to students are only allowed to increase the rent once a year.

Violators of the Rent Control Law face a fine of P25,000 to P50,000, or imprisonment of one month and a day up to six months, or both.

Roque, meanwhile, appealed to lessors and landlords not to implement unreasonable rent increases or evict anyone for failing to pay rent.

“The President has appealed, not just once, but twice, let’s help each this time of pandemic,” he said.

He sought understanding, especially since it is a difficult time for many, who have lost their jobs or source of livelihood.

“Let’s be understanding in rent collections. I hope nobody gets ejected and let’s help each other in a crisis like this,” he added.

In several speeches, Duterte has called on lessors and landlords not to “force” people to pay rent.

Reports showed that some small businesses affected by the pandemic have reportedly sought additional assistance from the government, like utility subsidies and lower rental fees.

Several loan programs are currently available for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to help them cope with the Covid-19 crisis.*PNA

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