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Nonrefundable rental deposit - Republic Act No. 9653?

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Arresto Menor
Kumusta Po

I would be extremely thankful for any assistance you might be able to give me, on clarifying an issue regarding a rental agreement my fiance entered into on an apartment, and a P12000 deposit she paid (including one month P4000 advance rent). Unfortunately, this is her first time renting, and she is somewhat inexperienced in entering into contracts.

The exact wording of the relevant part of the Kasunduan is:

Two months deposit P4000 para sa tubig, ilaw o mga gamit na masira sa nasabing nangungupahan P4000 ang isang buwan deposit non refundable sa mga maintenance or if may masirang kagamitan sa loob ng bahay.

I am somewhat confused by the wording of this. Does it mean to say that the deposit is nonrefundable only if there is any damage to the interior of the apartment? Is some of it refundable, since the "non refundable" part seems to apply to the "P4000 ang isang buwan" part only?

Somewhat strangely also, the receipt she was given for the payment of this, states payment received for one month deposit, and two months advance rent, unlike the agreement, which has it the other way around.

Also, regardless of what the agreement says, are non-refundable deposits lawful? I have come across Republic Act No. 9653, Section 7 of which states:

(2) months deposit which shall be kept in a bank under the lessor's account name during the entire duration of the lease agreement. Any and all interest that shall accrue therein shall be returned to the lessee at the expiration of the lease contract.

In the event however, that the lessee fails to settle rent, electric, telephone, water or such other utility bills or destroys any house components and accessories, the deposits and interests therein shall be forfeited in favor of the latter in the amount commensurate to the pecuniary damage done by the former.

My fiance has not yet questioned or spoken to the owner about this issue, since we first wanted to gain a better understanding of where we stand legally. What might be the best way to approach this, particularly if she might have a case for obtaining a refund on the deposit and the owner might not be willing to give her one?

Again, many thanks in advance for any help.

God bless

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