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Homeless in homeland: Filipinos lose condo units to cash-paying Chinese

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By Nancy Carvajal

More Filipinos are finding themselves driven out of houses and condominium units they rent in Metro Manila as real estate brokers snap up available space to house Chinese workers of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

Real estate agents say Filipino renters don’t have much of a choice but to move out of their condominium units nowadays as Chinese renters or their agents are ready to pay a higher price with cash.

At present, a two-bedroom unit near a POGO hub can be leased for P50,000 to as much as P70,000 monthly. To make the terms more attractive to unit owners, some Chinese renters and their agents are ready to pay up to a year’s worth of rent in cash.

Some landlords are also offering houses with several bedrooms for Chinese POGO workers. The going rental rate for these houses is P200,000 monthly, with a year’s worth of rent paid in advance. In return, owners no longer ask for documents from tenants.

A house owner in Parañaque is one of the landlords enjoying a windfall with the influx of Chinese workers. A total of 35 Chinese nationals live in her 70-square meter, three-story townhouse.

“The Filipino broker paid in cash for up to a year’s worth of rent in advance. The monthly rent allowed my family to rent a small condo unit, buy our medicines and daily needs,” she said.

Senate Labor Committee chairman Senator Joel Villanueva said many middle-income Filipinos are seeing their dreams of owning homes shattered as the influx of Chinese workers drive up real estate prices.

“The presence of POGO employees has led to an abnormal spike in the price of condo units, making them out of reach for middle-income Filipinos,” he told Politiko.

Villanueva also expressed alarm over the possible displacement of Business Processing Office (BPO) companies if building owners will
favor POGO companies willing to pay twice of what Filipino firms pay.

“BPOs employs Filipinos directly, but because of the increased rental income that would result to bigger expense for the Filipino companies, some of them might
leave for better and cheaper accommodation, elsewhere.,” he said.

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