Nalzaro: Case against property developer


A LOCAL businessman is contemplating filing a civil case against a land and housing developer for allegedly reneging on its promise to fix and re-construct his property, which was damaged by the drilling and excavation works undertaken by the developer in a nearby property, which also damaged several houses.

Gerard Tan, president of Southgate Express Marketing, exclusive distributor of imported Aeolous tires from China, will be filing a civil case against Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI) for failing to repair Tan’s building, which was damaged allegedly due to the drilling and excavation of the company in a nearby property. Tan is also into hotel-resort development in Mactan Island; while CLI is one of the land and housing developers with 50 developments in the country, according to its website.

Based on the documents I obtained from Tan, Tan has been leasing the 387-square-meter property of spouses Billy and Victoria Perez, who are now in the United States, since 2005. The lot is located in front of Oakridge Business Park along A.S Fortuna St. in Mandaue City. The first contract expired on Feb. 28, 2015. However, both parties agreed to extend the contract for five years, or until Feb. 28, 2020.

Under the first contract, Tan introduced improvements in the property by building an automotive service center as required by his China partner. As a result of the major earthquake in 2013 and for the safety of his employees and family, Tan, in 2017, sought the permission of the property owners to introduce major renovations on the building provided that their contract will be extended for another five years, or from 2020 to 2025, for Tan to recoup the renovation expenses in the amount of P12 million. The couple agreed unequivocally and unconditionally. Tan religiously fulfilled his financial obligations to the Perez spouses.

In June 2019, Tan’s building was heavily damaged and suffered significant cracks as a result of work done by CLI, while the latter’s engineers and contractor were conducting drilling and excavation works for its Astra Centre development just beside Tan’s property. Eventually, the service center was declared unsafe and ordered to be demolished by the Mandaue City Office of the Building Official.

Tan said that in August 2019, CLI, through its chief operating officer, Franco Soberano, promised to reconstruct and renovate the damaged service center. Both parties agreed and signed a memorandum of agreement on the undertaking. The CLI committed, without any condition, to demolish and immediately reconstruct the said service center within six months to be completed in April 2020, according to Tan.

But in September 2019, the Perez couple decided to sell their property to Tan, saying they would sign the Deed of Sale upon their return from the US in December 2019. Even though the service center was not operating because of the damage it sustained, Tan said he continued to pay his rental obligations to the Perez couple. Soberano allegedly ignored his repeated reminders and demands to start reconstructing the damaged service center.

Last Jan. 2, Tan was shocked and surprised when he received a letter from the lawyer of the Perez couple, informing him that he “breached” the first contract of lease for failing to turn over the building or improvements to the Perezes when the contract expired, the document from Tan said.

Using the same argument, the Perez couple told Tan they were no longer renewing the lease contract beyond Feb. 28 despite their previous agreement. The couple also told him they would be the ones to claim the cost of damage on Tan’s building from the CLI.

Tan said he smells “conspiracy” between CLI and the Perez couple. He said he learned that CLI offered to buy the property from the Perezes in the amount of P150,000 per square meter, while Tan said he could only offer P90,000 per square meter.

Thus, Tan is contemplating the filing of a civil case against CLI.

(In the spirit of fairness and fair play, this column is open to the reaction of CLI or its lawyers. - BGN.)


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