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Senate OK’s rent control bill on second reading

Vol. XXII, No. 191 [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Friday, May 1, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

BY BERNARD U. ALLAUIGAN, Reporter


THE SENATE on Wednesday night has approved on second reading a measure that seeks to protect housing tenants from unscrupulous rent increases for three years.

Senator Rodolfo G. Biazon, chairman of the committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement, said the chamber will push for the swift passage of Senate Bill (SB) 3163 which seeks to limit rent increases by not more than 10% for three years or until December 21, 2011 before the adjournment of the second regular session on June 5.

The limit on rent increases will be effective as long as the unit is occupied by the same lessee.

Under SB 3163, all residential units in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized cities where monthly rental does not exceed P10,000 are covered by the proposed measure. It also covers rentals not exceeding P5,000 for rural and other areas. Excluded under the proposal are residential units which are under a rent-to-own scheme.

The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) will be authorized to study if the industry needs to be regulated or deregulated by the time the three-year mechanism lapses. The housing regulator will also determine the duration of the regulation or deregulation, residential units covered and rental limits.

The proposed measure is a substitute to SB 2884 authored by Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri and SB 3030 filed by Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr.

"It’s a gift that we’re giving the Filipino people for Labor Day. The Senate gives this because we believe that not all benefits are wage benefits. This is considered non-wage benefit especially with the fact that millions of families are renting within Metro Manila and other urbanized cities, and rural areas that will help the workers who are renting their units," said Mr. Zubiri in a statement.

Republic Act 9341 or the Rent Control Act of 2005 which expired last December 31 set a 10% annual limit to such increase.

House Bill 6098 which was approved on second reading on April 15, meanwhile, sets the annual cap on rent increases at a lower 4% for 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.

It also sets a one-year moratorium on rent increases upon effectivity of the proposed law.

On the fourth year, HUDCC will assume the authority to extend this limit on rental increases per year and determine the residential units covered by such limit.

Mr. Zubiri expressed confidence in an earlier interview that the disagreements in the Senate and House versions will be harmonized in the bicameral conference committee deliberations.

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