Due to delays in crew change, thousands of seafarers have no choice but to sit tight until their forced prolonged vacation is over; many have been jobless for over six months now.
Hence, a report from rappler.com, provides OFWs options to address their concerns over their amortization of their properties.
A licensed real estate broker said real estate companies, in compliance with the Philippines’ Bayanihan to Heal as One Act – were directed not to collect monthly amortization from March to June 2020 due to the pandemic.
Should OFWs continue to face difficulties, an operations manager of a well known real estate company advised them to meet immediately with their property developer for proper guidance.
He said developers could offer OFWs in such situations adjusted payment plans or payment restructuring plans to avoid paying their arrears in lump sum.
Also, OFWs in such predicament are protected under Republic Act No. 6552 or the Realty Installment Buyer Protection Act.
Lawyer Barney Almazar said the law provides that default-borrowers are allowed to pay the unpaid installments free of interest at a rate of one-month grace period for every year of installment payments.
This means that an OFW who had continuously paid in installment, say, for 4 years is relieved of 4 months’ interest for the unpaid installments being settled.
But they “can only exercise this remedy once every 5 years as provided by the law,” Atty. Almazar said.
He added that those who have paid installments for at least two years may opt for a refund at a so-called “cash surrender value,” if in case the contract is canceled.
RA 6552 also requires a 50% refund of the total payments made for the first 5 years, and an additional 5% for the succeeding years.
The law also provides that down payments, deposits, or options on the contract should be included in the installments made.
Provisions for those who have paid in installment for less than two years require the developer to give the default-borrower a grace period of not more than 60 days from the date the installment payment was due.
Failure to pay by the end of the grace period would allow the developer to cancel the contract after 30 days from receipt by the buyer of the subsequent cancellation notice, said the law.
Atty. Almazar explained that these provisions do not apply to those making payments with the bank, in which case they are given a “redemption period” if the property has been foreclosed.
“When the bank forecloses the property, you are given the opportunity to buy it back from them,” the lawyer added.
In the case of bank loans, a licensed real estate broker advised OFWs to get in touch immediately with the loan officer of their bank. He surmised, however, that banks would likely be lenient to restructure their loans since banks, as much as possible, don’t want to foreclose properties because it would be an idle asset on their part.