Understanding Security Deposits
A security deposit is an amount given to the landlord to guarantee that you will fulfill the terms of the rental agreement and that you will leave the unit in good condition. Almost all landlords in Davao City charge a security deposit. It might be labeled “last month’s rent,” “advance deposit,” or “cleaning deposit,” or may combine the last month’s rent plus a specific amount for “security” in the event of damage to the unit.
Regardless of what the security deposit is called, local ordinance limits the amount a landlord can charge. The total amount cannot be more than the amount of two month’s rent for an unfurnished rental unit of three month’s rent for a furnished unit. The landlord will typically require you to pay this amount in addition to your first month’s rent.
Security deposits may not be refundable. Landloards can retain part or all of your deposit under certain circumstances. They include compensation for the following:
- outstanding rent
- Cleaning the rental unit after you move out, if the unit was not left as clean as when you moved in
- replacing or restoring furniture, furnishings, keys, or other items belonging to your landlord, exclusive of ordinary wear and tear
Make sure that your rental agreement clearly states that the landlord received a security deposit from you and accurately reflects how much you paid. Within three weeks after you move, you landlord must either (a) send you a full refund of the security deposit or (b) send you an itemized statement that lists reasons for and amounts of any deductions from the deposit.
Maintaining your Rental Unit
According the the Building Code of the Philippines, rental unit must be fit to live in, or “habitable.” The landlord, therefore, is responsible for repairing conditions that seriously affect the rental unit’s habitability as well as materially affecting tenants’ health and safety.
For less serious repairs, the rental agreement may state that the landlord or the tenant is responsible for maintaining a particular item. Basic requirements that the landlord must normally meet include the following:
- Roofs and walls must not leak
- Doors and windows must not be broken.
- Plumbing and gas must work.
- Sewer and septic system must be connected and operating.
- Floors, stairways, and railings must be maintained and safe.
- Lights and wiring must work and be safe.
- There must be enough cans and bins with covers for trash.
- There must be unobtructed fire exits.
When you first move in, the rental unit must be clean, with no trash, rodents, or other animals or pests. If you believe your rental unit needs repairs and that the repairs are the landlord’s responsibility, you should notify your landlord by both a telephone call and a letter.
Keep a copy of the letter for your records. In most situations, you should allow your landlord thirty days to make the repair for which he or she is responsible.
If the landlord does not make the repairs, and does not have a reasonable justification for not doing so, you may have several remedies. You may wish to contact an attorney, or the University Legal Aid Services, or the city building inspector for assistance with remedies.