An exclusive and gated village circulated a memorandum that reads: “All lot owners/lessors shall first register their Chinese lessees with the Homeowners Association office before moving in.” Upon further inquiry behind the memo, it revealed that numerous houses have been leased out, sometimes with a 1 or 2 year deposit, to mainland Chinese workers who are behind the country’s surging online gambling industry.
Filipinos are no strangers to surreptitiously slipping in a relative or two inside hotel rooms abroad to avoid extra charges. This accomplishment brings a sense of pride, proud that we can get away with bending a “little harmless” rule.
In some villages however, there are reports that some houses are used to accommodate twice as much residents than what is allowed. Since online gambling is a 24-hour business, workers maneuver through shifts: while one group works, the other one sleeps.
In smaller spaces such as condominium buildings, some units are used for sleeping while some are solely used as their mess hall or cafeteria.
What Can Property Owners do to Prevent This?
1. The Golden Rule: Single Family Dwellings
The basic rule when it comes to subdivision or condominium regulation is to first refer to your deed of restrictions. Most titles have provisions on single family dwellings, meaning only a singular family (as opposed to multiple independent occupants) may live in the property. Some restrictions also allow duplex homes, meaning two homes may be built on a single titled lot.
However, some titles may be silent regarding this. In which case, homeowners association (HOA) rules and regulations should supplement this void.
2. Preventive Measures that the Lessor May Employ
A lease is a contract to enjoy a property, under certain terms, for a specific period. Most lease contracts have basic provisions that touch on almost everything that should cover a lessor-lessee relationship.
However, changing times also call for a revisit and revision of archaic contracts. To prevent misuse of property, lessors should impose maximum occupancy limits and prohibitions against co-living/co-sharing.
It also helps to include an inspection clause, stating that the lessor or any authorized agent may inspect the property, provided that it is previously announced, not in any way intrusive, and conducted within reasonable hours.
The option to revise a contract may only be available to a lessor before the final terms are agreed upon by both parties. Any major revision however, may not be available mid-stream. In case a lessor gets caught in this unfortunate scenario, the lessor’s last resort is to refer back to the HOA by-laws and find out if there are any regulations regarding single-family dwellings.
If you suspect that a house in your village is being used as something that is prohibited by your deed of restrictions or HOA bylaws, immediately inform your HOA president or building manager. Your monthly dues are supposed to pay for your peace of mind and protection.
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