The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) released the guidelines on the concessions on residential rents, and commercial rents of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that have ceased operations due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). Memorandum Circular No. 20-12 aims to provide Filipinos and businesses, particularly MSMEs, economic relief during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency (see Amended Supplemental Guidelines under DTI Memorandum Circular No. 20-31).
Note: IATF Resolution No. 33 dated 6 May 2020, and the Revised Omnibus Guidelines (as approved in Resolution No. 37 dated 11 May 2020) contains three revisions:
- The grace period is available in ECQ, MECQ and GCQ areas;
- In addition to residential and MSME rental payments, “sectors not permitted to operate during the said period” are now entitled to the 30-day grace period; and
- The grace period is: (a) 30 days from the last due date; or (b) until such time that the community quarantine is lifted, whichever is longer.
The minimum grace period is
thirty (30) calendar days following the last due date of the rent which fell due within the ECQ (added: updated quarantine classifications). This is in accordance with Republic Act No. 11469, also known as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, authorizing a 30-day grace period for both loans and rents. In the Implementing Directives earlier issued by the President, the Department of Finance (DOF) was tasked to implement the 30-day grace period for loans (see DOF Implementing Rules and Regulations), while the DTI was tasked to implement the 30-day grace period for rents. MC 20-12, issued by the DTI on 4 April 2020, covers two types of rental payments: (a) residential; and (b) commercial.
A. 30-day Grace Period for Residential Rent
“Residential rent” means any amount paid for the use or occupancy of a residential unit, regardless of the mode and terms of payment. “Residential unit” refers to bedspaces, rooms, dormitories, apartments, houses, buildings, and/or land on which another’s dwelling is located used principally for residential or dwelling purposes.
A grace period, for a minimum of 30 days, is granted on residential rents falling due within the period of the ECQ, without incurring interests, penalties, fees, and other charges. The cumulative amount of rents falling due within the ECQ shall be spread out or equally amortized in the six (6) months following the end of the ECQ, and shall be added to the rents due on those succeeding months, without interest, penalties, fees, and charges.
B. 30-day Grace Period for Commercial Rent
“Commercial rent” means any amount paid for the use or occupancy of any other property used principally for commercial purposes, which denote any activity for which profit as the main aim or revenue is received. RA 11469 explicitly mentions only residential rent, and to cover commercial rents for MSMEs, the DTI cited the law’s declared policy on the “provision of safety nets to all affected sectors” and Republic Act No. 6977, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)”.
A grace period, for a minimum of 30 days, is granted on commercial rents falling due upon MSMEs that have temporarily ceased operations within the period of the ECQ, without incurring interests, penalties, fees, and other charges. The cumulative amount of rents due within the ECQ shall be spread out or equally amortized in the next six (6) months following the end of the ECQ, and shall be added to the rents due on those succeeding months, without interests, penalties, fees, and charges. In summary, a business enterprise is entitled to the 30-day grace period if ALL the following are present:
- (1) The lease contract must principally be for commercial purposes, which denote any activity for which profit as the main aim or revenue is received.
- (2) The rent must fall due within the period of the ECQ.
- (3) The lessee must have temporarily ceased operations because of the ECQ.
- (4) The business enterprise must be a MSME, which refers to any business activity or enterprise engaged in industry, agribusiness and/or services, whether single proprietorship, cooperative, partnership or corporation whose total assets, inclusive of those arising from loans by exclusive of the land on which the particular business entity’s office, plant and equipment are situated, must have value of not more than P100 Million. To be specific: (a) micro enterprise – not more than P3,000,000; (b) small enterprise – P3,000,001 to P15,000,000; and (c) medium enterprise – P15,000,001 to P100,000,000. [See also: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises: What Businesses are Considered MSMEs]
- (5) The MSMEs must have signified to their respective lessors their request for assistance by providing supporting documents, such as, but not limited to, financial statements as proof of enterprise size, and/or lease contracts as proof of tenancy.
The commercial rent for MSMEs is not waived even if they are not doing business during the ECQ. The payment period is merely extended, spread out over six months. Nevertheless, the lessors of commercial rents for MSMEs may, purely on a voluntary basis, extend greater generosity by:
- a. Totally or partially wave the commercial rents that are falling due during the ECQ.
- b. Grant reprieve or discounted amount of commercial rents due after the ECQ.
- c. Open for renegotiation the Lease Term Agreements with the lessees.
- d. Use other recourse to mitigate the impact of the ECQ to the MSMEs.
Lessors shall consider the liquidity and capability to pay rent of MSMEs in negotiating assistance to be granted. MSMEs may present their financial statements, cash flow projections, among others, as supporting evidence.
No Refund on Rents Already Paid. Lessors are not obligated to refund residential and commercial rents paid by the lessees during the period of the quarantine. In such case, the lessor shall grant a minimum of 30-day grace period from the next due date of the residential/commercial rents without incurring interest, penalties, fees, and charges. [See discussion on post-dated checks: Bouncing Checks, Grace Periods and the Enhanced Community Quarantine]
Recognition of Voluntary Waiver from Lessors. Existing waivers on rental payments due provided by lessors, such as those in recognition of the closure of their lessees’ businesses during the ECQ, shall continue to be honored.
Non-Enforcement of Evictions. No eviction for failure to pay the residential or commercial rent due may be enforced within the 30-day period after the lifting of the Enhanced Community Quarantine.
Investigation and Penalties. Lessors who shall refuse to provide 30-day grace period to lessees shall be penalized with imprisonment of not less than 2 months or a fine of not less than P10,000, or both.
The DTI, through the Fair Trade and Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) or DTI Regional Offices, motu propio or upon complaint, shall issue a Notice of Violation against a lessor. The process may be initiated by a complaint filed before the DTI, either in person or electronically. The complaint shall contain the following information: (1) Complete name, residence address, and contact number of the lessor and the lessee; (2) Complete address of the residential or commercial unit concerned; (3) Date when the rental payment became due; (4) Narration of the relevant and material facts; and (5) Submission of documentary evidence, if any.
If the DTI finds merit in the complaint, it shall issue the Notice of Violation to the lessor, who will be required to submit a written reply within five (5) working days from receipt of notice, containing the following: (a) An explanation why or how the violation occurred or, if contested, the basis for disputing the violation; (b) Corrective actions that have been taken and the results achieved; (c) The date/s of when corrective action/s was/were fully achieved; and (d) Corrective actions to be taken to prevent recurrence.
Upon determination of the violation, appropriate criminal charge/s shall be filed against the lessor with the Department of Justice (DOJ), without prejudice to the filing of other administrative cases. [Full text of Memorandum Circular No. 20-12]
- Twin-Notice Rule and Procedural Requirements in Employment Termination Proceedings - June 3, 2020
- When Travel Pass is Needed for Interzonal Travel during Community Quarantine - June 1, 2020
- Can Companies Compel Employees to Work during the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and Impose Disciplinary Sanctions - May 29, 2020