BUSINESSES have been granted a 30-day grace period on rent payments counting from the date businesses are permitted to operate, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

In memorandum circular 20-29 signed on June 2, commercial lessees will start their 30-day grace period from the date their category of business was allowed to operate, whether or not the business has resumed operations.

Rent owed by businesses that are not yet allowed to operate is deferred by 30 days after the lockdown is lifted or after the date they are allowed to resume operations, whichever comes first.

These guidelines revise DTI’s April 4 circular granting a 30-day deferral from the last due date within the lockdown.

The businesses will not incur interest, penalties, or fees from deferred rent. The total rent that fell due within the lockdown is to be amortized over six months after the grace period.

Lessors must submit a signed promissory note to avail of the six month concession, or rent may be demanded from them at the end of the 30 days.

Most industries are allowed to operate at 50-100% capacity in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ), with the exception of amusement, gaming, fitness, and tourism establishments, as well as industries that cater to children. Concerts and sporting events are also not allowed.

All industries are allowed to operate in areas under modified GCQ.

Residential rent is also deferred for lessees who have lost income or whose employers or businesses were not allowed to operate during the lockdown. They are granted a grace period of 30 days from the lifting of the quarantine or from the resumption of employment or business operations.

Lessees may not be evicted for failure to pay rent within the lockdown until the end of the grace period.

Lessors who fail to follow the guidelines may be held criminally, civilly, or administratively liable.

Information on violations of the guidelines may be brought to the DTI. Violations may be endorsed to the Department of Justice, subject to the filing of a complaint affidavit by the lessee or lessor.

DTI said that lessors may also consider waiving or offering discounts for commercial rent or renegotiating lease term agreements for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.

Lessors are not obligated to refund rent payments made during the lockdown. — Jenina P. Ibañez