1. To whom you will deal with
To transact, you will basically end up in Brokerage. In other words, you will transact with licensed Brokers and Agents. Almost all unit owners have their own Brokers/Agents that help them find tenants, and 99% of the properties you will find in the different website platforms are managed by them. Hence, expect that the owners are not around from the signing of the contract until the end of the contract. However, some owners are hands-on and you can meet them even from the start of viewing. Moreover, there is a good number of foreign agencies now in Cebu who can help you, as you can communicate freely with the same dialect as yours.
2. Broker/Agent Fee
The service fee of the brokers or agents for assisting you to find your condo and until your contract ends is not your problem anymore to pay, the condo-owners are the one will pay this fee. However, if you end-up with some foreign agents here, you have to clarify in the beginning before you transact with them. Choosing and changing your broker or agent afterward is your total freedom unless you have a signing agreement.
The most requested document is your passport only. If you have Filipino companions, they may ask for a government ID or company ID. Also, they will request your complete permanent or foreign address, as it will be included in the contract to make sure of your identification.
Normally, one would like to reserve the unit so that the owner will not entertain other prospective tenants. However, for how much? It depends on the owner, but normally they can accept a 1-month rate for the reservation. Owners can usually accept reservations if your target move-in is not more than a month; some owners can even accept two-month long reservations if your intent of stay is 1 year.
Remember that the reservation is your advance payment as well and that billing starts on your first day of move-in. But in some cases, it will start on the day you have agreed with the owner even if you have not moved in yet. As you know, owners do not want to have their units vacant for a long time. Also, be informed that the reservation is non-refundable and most probably non-transferable.
5. Advance & Security Payment
Before you move in, you are required to provide an advance payment to cover your first-month fee. Normally, advance payment is a 1-month rate, but some owners require two months and distribute the payments to the first and last months of your stay. Though it seldom happens, please take note that some owners might ask for an advance payment of more than 2 months, or even ask you to pay for the whole year in advance.
Security deposit is a must in the renting business in the Philippines. A 2-month security payment (or higher) is the requirement for the majority of owners, but can sometimes be negotiated to 1 month especially for economy rooms. Please note that the security deposit cannot be used for your monthly payments. It will be fully refunded when you end your stay with no pending bills and damages in the unit/room. Any unpaid bills and damages will most likely be deducted from your deposit. You will receive a refund within 7 days for the earliest and 30 days or more for the longest.
6. Cheque/Check, Bank Transfer, Bank Deposit and Collection
Owners have their own different ways of receiving your monthly payments. Most of the owners prefer cheque as it is the most convenient for them; Some owners will not accept your intent to stay in their unit if you cannot provide a post-dated cheque. If you cannot open a checking account due to the lack of requirements, you may try to borrow some cheques from your friends, and pay them instead.
Bank Transfer from a foreign bank to a local bank is another good choice, as this is convenient for both the owner and yourself. However, bank transfer fees, days of transfer and the exchange rate should be considered.
Likewise, bank deposit ( You will deposit your payment to the owner’s bank account) and collection are the last options that both owners and renters may agree on. Handing the payment over or paying in-person to the owners or their representative is a disadvantage as more time and communication is needed, but it is a good opportunity to personally discuss any issues you have in your stay. Some owners also like the personal collection as an opportunity to visit the unit for checking.
7. Utility Bills
Regardless of how payment is collected, bills such as electricity & water are of course shouldered by you as the tenant. There are 2 common ways to pay your bills: Owners/representatives collect your payments monthly, or you directly pay to the collecting agency. Before, Cebuanos/Filipinos pay directly to only one collecting agency, but more payment options are now available due to partnerships with banks, pawnshops, malls (who have their own payment services), and even convenience stores. Just ask the owner the most convenient way to pay nearby your place.
Before you move in, bills must all appear as zero balance for easy computation. The day before you move in, your Broker/Agents will normally help you acquire the current utility readings from the administrator, as this is required for your move-in pass. This will make the computation of future consumption easier.
8. Wifi & Cables
Wi-Fi and cable bills of the units are usually not included in the price rate. 50-70% of units are wifi and cable ready due to requests by previous tenants. For units newly open for lease, the wifi and cable are not ready; In this situation, the Tenant and Owner will discuss whose name will be used in the wifi/cable applications. Some owners are not open to using their name for opening a subscription to avoid the hassle and for security reasons. In the Philippines, subscription for internet and cable requires a 2-year contract; A termination fee of 3,000-5,000 pesos is charged for a breach of contract. If you provide funds for this termination fee on top of the security deposit, some owners may agree to use their name for your wifi and cable subscriptions.
It is normally the Tenant’s responsibility to apply for a Wifi subscription, but do not worry as owners or their representatives will absolutely help you in this matter. This is also an advantage for you as you can directly contact the subscription company if you have some concerns or problems with their services. Wifi speed in the Philippines is not as good as in other countries; The fastest internet connection is 100-200Mbps with the lowest being 3-5 Mbps and is upgradable for most services offered. If you need wifi for work, choosing the Fibr service is advisable. The price ranges from P1,400 to P5,000 or higher, depending on the speed.
A cable subscription is normally ready for most units and is only around P400. Some international channels are included, but you need to pay an additional fee per channel. For wifi and cable subscription please refer to these companies;
9. Pre-termination of Contract
In legal matters, you can pre-terminate the contract for any reason, and owners may accept. However, please be aware that your security deposit and advance payment will not be refunded if you pre-terminate the contract without legal or valid reasons. Furthermore, your security deposit and advance payment will not be used as payment for any current billings and/or damages, so you have to settle these payments before you leave the place.
If you pay for the whole year in advance, this will also most probably be non-refundable if you pre-terminate the contract. You need to read about this matter carefully in the contract, make sure you understand the policy before signing the contract; Owners have different policies about this matter.
10. End of Contract and Re-contract
Normally two months before the end of your contract, you should let the owners/representatives know if you want to renew or end your contract. Contract renewal is pending the owner’s approval but it is likely if you are a good tenant. To end your contract, make sure all bills are paid and there are no damages to the unit, in order to receive a full refund of your security deposit. One final tip: Make sure to take good care of the unit by cleaning it regularly, and you will be able to enjoy the rest of your stay.
Prepared By: Ram