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Permanent rent control eyed

Vol. XXII, No. 122 [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Thursday, January 22, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

THE SENATE is mulling a law to regulate rent increases and do away with the periodic extensions and review.

Senator Rodolfo G. Biazon, chairman of the committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement, proposed the scheme at yesterday’s committee hearing on the issue. He also asked the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) to study the proposal.

Mr. Biazon noted that Republic Act (RA) 9341, or the Rent Control Law, which protects tenants from unreasonable rent increases, traces its roots in a 1947 law that has been extended through various fiats — eight laws enacted by Congress, three decrees issued by President Ferdinand E. Marcos, three laws passed by the Marcos regime’s Batasang Pambansa (legislative assembly) and two executive orders.

RA 9341, which was extended from 2005, expired on Dec. 31, 2008.

"There seems to be no end to the need to extend the law," Mr. Biazon told reporters. "For the last 62 years, we have always extended it. There is only one way to make the solution permanent."

There has been another proposal to extend the newly expired law. Senate Bill 2884, filed by Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri in November, seeks a new law only until 2011. A similar proposal has been filed at the House of Representatives.

Under the expired law, a 10% cap in annual increase was set for residential units being rented out for not more than P10,000 per month in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized cities, and not more than P5,000 in other parts of the country.

The 10% cap applies only for a current occupant. Once vacated, the lessor can set a new rate for the next occupant.

The lessor cannot demand more than one month in advance rent and not more than two months deposit from the tenant.

Assistant Secretary Cecilia S. Alba of the HUDCC said they will consult with other housing agencies and affected stakeholders on the viability of the Senate proposal.

Citing latest data from the National Statistics Office in 2000, Ms. Alba said about 1.54 million families have been renting at the turn of the millennium from only 917,000 in 1990. Based on the same year’s data, 83% or about 1.2 million families have been covered by the law.

Even with his time-bound bill, Mr. Zubiri has backed an indefinite period to regulate rent increases to "protect low-income families from unscrupulous rent increases."

He said the chamber intends to pass the measure before the end of February. As majority leader, Mr. Zubiri calendars bills for plenary deliberation and approval. — Bernard U. Allauigan


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