Agreement on property undivided for not more than 10 years valid

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My siblings and I are co-owners of a piece of land that we currently use for the growing and harvesting of corn. In order for us to continue the harvest of produce for an extended period, we want to enter into an agreement to stipulate that none of us shall be allowed to subdivide the property for not less than 12 years. Is this possible?

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Sincerely yours,
Andres

Dear Andres,
There is co-ownership whenever the ownership of an undivided thing or right belongs to different persons (Article 484, New Civil Code). Hence, a co-ownership exists between you and your siblings with respect to the piece of land, which is utilized for raising and harvesting corn.

Article 494 of the New Civil Code provides:

“Article 494. No co-owner shall be obliged to remain in the co-ownership. Each co-owner may demand at any time the partition of the thing owned in common, insofar as his share is concerned.

Nevertheless, an agreement to keep the thing undivided for a certain period of time, not exceeding ten years, shall be valid. This term may be extended by a new agreement.

A donor or testator may prohibit partition for a period that shall not exceed 20 years.
Neither shall there be any partition when it is prohibited by law.

No prescription shall run in favor of a co-owner or co-heir against his co-owners or co-heirs so long as he expressly or [implicitly]recognizes the co-ownership (400a) [emphasis supplied].”

It is clear that each co-owner may demand at any time the partition or subdivision of the thing owned in common, insofar as his share is concerned. Nevertheless, an agreement to keep the thing undivided for a certain period of time, not exceeding 10 years, shall be valid. This term may be extended by a new agreement.
In your situation, you may not enter into an agreement and stipulate that none of your siblings, as co-owners, may subdivide or partition the land that you collectively use for the raising and harvesting of corn, for 12 years. This is because the law allows only a maximum of 10 years for co-owners to stipulate the prohibition of partition. A new agreement, however, may extend the period to prohibit the partition.

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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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