(Photo courtesy of Abra Province Facebook)

MANILA – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is seeking a moratorium on the payment of all fees, charges, and costs relating to the rental of residential units in times of disasters and other kinds of emergencies.

Gatchalian’s Senate Bill No. (SBN) 820, or the Rental Payment and Eviction Moratorium during Disasters and Emergencies Act, states that the lessor, sublessor, or owner of a residential unit may not make or cause to make any eviction or similar legal proceeding to recover possession of the unit from the lessee or sublessee unless they perpetrate a criminal act.

"SBN 820 seeks to protect poor Filipino families by cushioning the impact of disasters and other emergencies, noting that they are more vulnerable when they have no place to stay. By providing a moratorium on rental payments, poor families would be able to cope with the economic effects of disasters and emergencies," Gatchalian said in a statement.

SBN 820 proposes that the moratorium be imposed during the duration of a State of Calamity or Emergency at the national or local level as declared by the President or the local government unit.

It shall be extended to 30 days from the termination of the State of Calamity or Emergency.

If a State of Calamity or Emergency exceeds 60 days, the payment of the deferred fees, charges, and costs shall be spread out for a six-month period of equal installments.

Gatchalian’s bill further provides that no penalties or interest shall be collected on these payments.

The proposed moratorium covers residential units, whether in a lease or sublease arrangement, and whether reduced in a written form or not.

Gatchalian said these rental and eviction moratoriums may also be applied to commercial or office space rental of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as defined in the Magna Carta for MSMEs.

"Rental and eviction moratoriums during a State of Calamity or Emergency may be applied to MSMEs at the discretion of the Department of Trade and Industry Secretary, taking into consideration the closure of businesses, community quarantine orders, or other circumstances that may hamper their operations," he said.

The same bill was previously filed by Senator Lito Lapid in May 2020 that aimed to protect Filipino families from Covid-19 as the government imposed stay-at-home protocols then.

Malaking dagok ang dulot ng mga kalamidad at mga sakuna sa kabuhayan at negosyo ng ating mga kababayan. Kaya naman iminungkahi natin ang moratorium sa pagbabayad ng renta at moratorium sa pagpapaalis sa mga nagrerenta sa panahon ng kalamidad upang mapagaan ang kanilang mga pasanin at matulungan silang makabangon (Calamities and disasters cause a big blow to livelihood and business of our countrymen. That is why we are recommending the moratorium in paying rent and moratorium on evicting the renters in times of calamities to lessen their burden and help them recover),” Gatchalian said. (PNA)