Administrators can’t own properties they manage

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My brother who is living in London left all his properties here in the Philippines, and are being managed by my son since 1989. He does not receive anything for his work as an administrator, but he is allowed to use the rents of the townhouses being leased and the money from the sale of the fruits and the grains gathered from the farm for his children’s schooling. Whatever is left from it is accounted for and deposited in my brother’s account.

Aside from that, my son and his family were allowed to stay in one of the townhouses belonging to my brother in Batangas. Considering the length of time, is there a way that my son’s occupation of one of the houses of my brother would give rise to his ownership of the said house?

Dear Minda,
From your narration of facts, it is safe to presume that your son is an agent of your brother with respect to the management and administration of the latter’s properties here in the Philippines. The fact that he does not receive any remuneration from your brother does not remove their relationship as principal and agent.

By the contract of agency a person binds himself to render some service or to do something in representation or on behalf of another, with the consent or authority of the latter (Article 1868, Civil Code). An agency may also be defined as a contract, either express or implied, upon a consideration, or a gratuitous undertaking, by which one of the parties confides to the other, the management of some business to be transacted in his name or on his account, and by which the other assumes to do the business and renders an account (2 Am. Jur. 13 quoted in Page 704, Civil Code of the Philippines Annotated, Book V, 14th Ed., Paras). The parties to the contract of agency are the principal and the agent. The principal is the one whom the agent represents and from whom he derives authority and the agent is the one who acts for another. Generally, it is a fiduciary relationship since it is based on trust and confidence.

As an agent of your brother, your son is representing the former in the management of his farm and townhouses. His use of one of the townhouses of your brother including the use of the rental payments may be considered as remuneration for his services rendered as an agent.

Anent your query if your son’s occupation of one of the townhouses of your brother can ripen into ownership, the answer is in the negative. Agency is not one of the modes of acquiring ownership. Ownership is acquired by occupation and by intellectual creation. Ownership and other real rights over property are acquired and transmitted by law, by donation, by testate and intestate succession, and in consequence of certain contracts, by tradition. Things appropriable by nature which are without an owner, such as animals that are the object of hunting and fishing, hidden treasure and abandoned movables, are acquired by occupation. Although occupation is a mode of acquiring ownership, the ownership of a piece of land cannot be acquired by occupation (Articles 712, 713 and 714, Civil Code).

Based from the foregoing provisions, your son can never become the owner of the properties of his uncle, unless the latter expressly transfers his rights to him through any of the modes of transferring ownership. Your son’s occupation of the same can never ripen into ownership no matter how long the occupation is.

Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to


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