Cetus Development, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 77648, August 7, 1989, 176 SCRA 72

FACTS:

The private respondents were the lessees of the premises originally owned by the Susana Realty. These individual verbal leases were on a month-to-month basis and were paying to a collector of the Susana Realty who went to the premises monthly. Sometime on March 1984, Susana Realty sold the leased premises to the petitioner, Cetus Development, Inc. From April to June 1984, the respondents continued to pay their monthly rentals to a collector sent by the petitioner, but in the succeeding months, they failed to pay as no collector came.

On October 9, 1984, the petitioner sent a letter to each of the private respondents demanding that they vacate the subject premises and to pay the back rentals for the unpaid monthly rentals. Immediately upon receipt thereof, the private respondents paid their respective arrearages in rent which were accepted by the petitioner. However, private respondents did not vacate the leased premises. Hence, petitioner filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila complaints for ejectment against the private respondents.

The private respondents, in their respective answers assailed that they were paying their monthly rental regularly since they occupied such premises, that their non-payment of the rentals was due to the failure of the petitioner to send its collector, that they were at a loss as to where they should pay their rentals, that one of them called the office of the petitioner to inquire as to where they would make payment and was told that a collector would be sent to receive the same, that no collector was subsequently sent, and that instead they received a uniform demand letter.

The trial court rendered its decision dismissing the six cases. It held that the plaintiff cannot eject the defendants from the leased premises because at the time cases were instituted, there are no rentals in arrears. The alleged rental arrearages were paid immediately after receipt of the demand letter and that the rentals of the tenants are relatively small to which the ejectment may not lie on grounds of equity and for humanitarian reasons. Petitioner appealed to the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals, but both dismissed the appeal for lack of merit, affirming the decision of the trial court. Hence, this case.

ISSUE:

Whether or not there exists a cause of action when the complaints for unlawful detainer were filed considering the fact that upon demand by petitioner from private respondents for payment of their back rentals, the latter immediately tendered payment which was accepted by petitioner.

RULING:

No, there is lack of cause of action. We held that the demand required and contemplated by law is a jurisdictional requirement for the purpose of bringing an unlawful detainer suit for failure to pay rent or comply with the conditions of the lease. It partakes of an extrajudicial remedy that must be pursued before resorting for judicial action so much so that when there is full compliance with the demand, there arises no necessity for court action.

For the purpose of bringing an ejectment suit, two requisites must concur, namely: (1) there must be failure to pay rent or comply with the conditions of the lease and (2) there must be demand both to pay or to comply and vacate within the periods specified by law.

In the case at bar, it is very clear that no cause of action for ejectment has accrued. There was no failure yet on the part of the private respondents to pay rents for three consecutive months. As the terms of the individual verbal leases which were on a month-to- month basis were not alleged and proved, the general rule on necessity of demand applies, to wit: there is default in the fulfillment of an obligation when the creditor demands payment at the maturity of the obligation or at anytime thereafter.

 * Case digest by Frilin Lomosad, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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