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Unlawful detainer case based on tolerance

What is an unlawful detainer case based on tolerance?

An unlawful detainer case based on tolerance refers to a legal action taken by a landlord against a tenant who is occupying a property without a current lease agreement or the landlord's permission, but the landlord has allowed the tenant to remain on the property without taking immediate legal action to evict them. In such cases, the landlord may claim that the tenant's continued occupancy is unlawful due to the absence of a valid lease or permission.

Typically, when a tenant's lease agreement expires or is terminated, they are expected to vacate the property. If the tenant fails to do so, the landlord usually initiates eviction proceedings to regain possession of the premises. However, in some situations, a landlord may tolerate the tenant's continued occupancy without taking immediate legal action. This tolerance could be due to various reasons, such as informal agreements, temporary circumstances, or leniency on the part of the landlord.

An unlawful detainer case based on tolerance arises when the landlord decides to pursue legal action to remove the tenant from the property after allowing them to stay for a period without enforcing their right to possession. The landlord must demonstrate that the tenant's continued occupation is now considered unlawful due to the expiration of the lease or termination of the agreement, the lack of permission or consent, and the landlord's awareness of the tenant's presence.

What needs to be proved in an unlawful detainer case based on tolerance?

In an unlawful detainer case based on tolerance, the plaintiff (usually the landlord) must prove several elements to establish their claim. The specific requirements may vary depending on the jurisdiction, but generally, the following elements need to be proven:

  1. Landlord-tenant relationship: The plaintiff must demonstrate that a landlord-tenant relationship exists between themselves and the defendant (the tenant). This typically involves establishing that the defendant was granted possession of the property by the plaintiff and agreed to pay rent in exchange.

  2. Expiration of the tenancy or termination of the agreement: The plaintiff must show that the tenancy has expired, or the landlord has terminated the tenancy agreement. This can be accomplished by providing evidence of the lease agreement, termination notice, or other relevant documentation.

  3. Lack of permission or consent: The plaintiff needs to demonstrate that the defendant is occupying the property without the landlord's permission or consent. If the tenant's right to occupy the property has been terminated, their continued presence without the landlord's approval may be considered unlawful.

  4. Awareness of the tenant's occupation: The plaintiff must show that they were aware of the tenant's occupation and allowed it to continue without taking legal action to evict them. This can be established by providing evidence such as past communications, rent payment records, or witnesses who can testify to the landlord's knowledge and consent.

  5. Reason for tolerance: The plaintiff must establish a valid reason for their tolerance of the tenant's continued occupancy. This could include evidence of an agreement to extend the tenancy, a temporary arrangement, or any other circumstances that justify the landlord's delay in pursuing eviction.

  6. Notice to terminate the tolerance: In some cases, the landlord may need to provide notice to the tenant, indicating that the tolerance is being revoked and that the tenant must vacate the premises within a specific timeframe. The length of the notice period can vary depending on local laws.

What does the supreme court say?

In Galande v. Espiritu, GR 255989, March 1, 2023, penned by Associate Justice Henri Jean Paul Inting, the Supreme Court discussed the elements of an unlawful detainer case based on tolerance, thus:

"To make a case for unlawful detainer, the complainant must allege the following: (1) initially, the defendant lawfully possessed the property, either by contract or by plaintiff's tolerance; (2) the plaintiff notified defendant that his right of possession is terminated; (3) the defendant remained in possession and deprived plaintiff of its enjoyment; and (4) the plaintiff filed the complaint within one year from the last demand on defendant to vacate the property; xxx

"In an unlawful detainer case grounded on tolerance, while the possession is initially lawful, "such possession becomes illegal from the moment a demand to vacate is made by the owner and the possessor by tolerance refuses to comply with such demand. It must be stressed that "a person who occupies the land of another at the latter's tolerance or permission, without any contract between them, is necessarily bound by an implied promise that he will vacate upon demand, failing which, a summary action for ejectment is the proper remedy against them. This is because such right of possession is terminated after a demand to vacate is made. It is an essential requirement therefore that the plaintiff's supposed act of tolerance must be present right from the start of the possession that is later sought to be recovered...

"It is well settled that the sole issue in ejectment cases is physical or material possession of the subject property, independent of any claim of ownership of the parties. In such cases, "possession" refers to "prior physical possession of possession de facto, not possession de jure, or that arising from ownership; thus, title is not the issue at hand. For this purpose, it would be sufficient for a claimant to prove prior physical possession even from the owner of the property to recover his or her possession. As a rule, courts accord respect to persons who are in prior possession of a property, as they enjoy a disputable presumption of ownership. Thus, as long as a person has prior possession in time, he or she has the security that entitles him or her to remain on the property until a person with a better right lawfully ejects him or her, regardless of the character of the prior possession."

Source: Manila Times et alia

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