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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) granted on Monday, April 6, a 30-day grace period for residential rent, as well as commercial rent paid by micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez also said MSMEs will not incur interest, penalties, fees, and other charges under the grace period to ensure "their survival" as they suspend operations during the "enhanced community quarantine" (ECQ) or lockdown in Luzon.
Lessors who would be found guilty of refusing to provide the 30-day grace period to lessees would be penalized with imprisonment of not less than two months or a fine of not less than P10,000, or both.
What dates are covered? Under the DTI's memorandum circular, the grace period will be determined as 30 calendar days following the last due date of the rent during the lockdown.
Cumulative amount of rents that need to be paid within the quarantine period must be amortized equally in the 6 months following the end of the period.
This can be added to the rent owed for succeeding months without interest, penalties, fees, and charges.
What if the tenant already paid for rent? Lessors are not required to refund residential and commercial rents already paid by lessees during the lockdown.
But lessors must grant a minimum of a 30-day grace period from the next due date of residential and commercial rents without interests and other penalties as well.
The DTI called on lessors of MSMEs to partially or totally waive commercial rents, grant a reprieve or discounted amount of commercial rents due after the lockdown, open renegotiation of the lease term agreements, or use other ways to mitigate the impact of the lockdown on MSMEs. (READ: Ortigas Land waives mall rental charges)
What about condominium and home loans? The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act covers loan accounts with issued postdated checks and those with auto debit or auto deduct arrangements.
Financial institutions (FIs) are advised to coordinate with their clients if they wish to proceed with the arrangement despite the mandatory 30-day grace period granted by law.
FIs should also coordinate with their clients if they wish to reverse checks cleared or payments debited prior to the law and its IRR, during the mandatory 30-day grace period. The reversal should be done without fees and charges.
In an interview with ANC, the BSP said in-house financing schemes of condominiums are also covered by the law.
Lopez emphasized that there should be no eviction for failure to pay residential or commercial rent due within a 30-day period after the lifting of the lockdown.
"No Filipinos should lose their residence during the ECQ period. Moreover, the importance of MSMEs in jumpstarting our economy once the ECQ has been lifted cannot be understated," Lopez said.
The lockdown in Luzon is set to end on April 12. For Metro Manila, the lockdown is until April 14. Both can be extended by the government.
Complaints can be brought to the DTI in person or by emailing, either through the Fair Trade and Enforcement Bureau at FTEB@dti.gov.ph or via the agency's regional offices. – Rappler.com