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Tenant wishes to terminate lease due to safety reason

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GoodLandlady


Arresto Menor
I have a tenant who signed a 1-year contract to lease my unit in a high rise condominium located in Metro Manila . After a minor earthquake, the tenant now wants to terminate the lease on the grounds of safety (unlivable). They said they saw cracks inside the unit and this caused sleepless nights and they are now in constant state of nervousness for the fear that the building will collapse. Tenant now request me to return the remaining PDcs as well as the 2 months security deposit. Note that its states in our contract that if they pre-terminate, the security deposit is forfeited and the only grounds for termination is on fortuitous event( not caused by tenant negligence) if the building is damaged rendering it untenantable. Please advise. Thank you!

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xtianjames


Reclusion Perpetua
then advise them to hire an inspector to prove that your unit is untenantable. unless they do so, you can stick with your contract.

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GoodLandlady


Arresto Menor
Thanks @xtianjames. We already asked the Engineer from the PMO of our condo and they were assured the building is safe. Tenant still wished to terminate the contract on the following ground:
FORTUITUOUS EVENT - The LESSOR shall not be liable for damages caused by the natural elements and/or any loss, damage, or destruction caused to the LESSEE in the premises due to fire, earthquake. Typhoons, floods, or any other fortuitous event. In the event that the premises of any part thereof as destroyed or rendered untenantable by fire, war, Civil disturbance, earthquakes, floods, typhoons, calamities or any other acts of God or man which is not attributable to the fault or negligence of the LESSEE his family, employees, or persons under his supervision or control, the LESSEE shall be not be responsible for the restoration of the property In the case that the premises is totally destroyed or becomes untenantable by reason of any of the causes above mentioned, this Contract of Lease shall be automatically extinguished and the LESSOR is obliged to return to the LESSEE the unapplied portion of the rentals and security deposit with no further obligation on the part of the LESSEE to pay the rent. In the event, however, that the premise is only partially destroyed or untenantable the LESSEE may elect to either terminate the lease after a ten-day written notice to the LESSOR, with the same consequences as those in the case of total destruction or to remain in the premises and pay a proportionally reduced rent.

I am not a lawyer myself but my understanding on this is you can terminate the contract when the unit is totally/partially damaged which is not the case. Can they use psychological trauma as basis to terminate the contract?

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xtianjames


Reclusion Perpetua
Psychological trauma is not mentioned on your contract so he cannot use this to invalidate your contract. Do you have a document from the Engineer confirming the safety of the building? if not, request this and send it to your tenant. If he still wishes to terminate your contract, then he would have to follow the stipulation on your contract.

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arnoldventura


Reclusion Perpetua
Since there are cracks inside the unit, it is the obligation of the lessor to have it repaired, unless there is a stipulation to the contrary. However, the tenant cannot use this as basis to terminate the lease contract even if you fail to cause the repairs. What the tenant is allowed by law to do is only to suspend the payment of rent until repairs are made, and not to terminate the lease. https://www.alburovillanueva.com/understanding-lease-agreements

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GoodLandlady


Arresto Menor
However the cracks are just merely hairline cracks. Tenant however says it is unlivable as they could not help to feel nervous staying there. Can they use this argument to break the contract?

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attyLLL


moderator
Ask them to produce a certification from an engineer that the building is unsafe. Else you are entitled to the penalties stated in your contract.


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GoodLandlady


Arresto Menor
Thanks @attyLLL. It’s mentioned in the contract that if pre-terminated the security deposit is non-refundable. One of my tenant is a lawyer himself so not sure why they are is still insisting to get the deposit. Am I missing something in the contract that gives them the right to claim back the deposit?

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