My three siblings and I inherited a titled lot from our parents wherein we were all named as the co-owners of the lot in the title of the land. Our parents built a residential compound within this lot where we have been living for around three decades already. I plan to have this property divided with regard to my share of the land, so I can have my own separate title to the land, but one of my siblings is stopping me. He is claiming that I can never partition our co-owned property since our parents allegedly told us that we are not to divide the property as long as we live there.
Is this legal? Can I be legally restricted from partitioning the property that we co-own together with my siblings? Please advise me about this. Thank you!
According to Article 484 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, there is co-ownership when different persons own an undivided thing. Such is the case in your situation since you and your siblings co-own the land that you inherited from your parents.
Considering this, the law on co-ownership provides for a specific provision with regard to the partition of the co-owned property. According to the law:
“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 which shall not exceed twenty 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 impliedly recognizes the co-ownership. (400a)” (Civil Code of the Philippines) (Emphasis supplied)
As can be gleaned from this provision, any of the co-owners may demand the partition of the co-owned property at any time. The period of prohibition for a partition is limited only to ten (10) years if there is any agreement to such affect and a period of twenty (20) years in case a testator or a donor expressly provided for such a prohibition.
Thus, in your situation, your brother is wrong in claiming that you may never partition the land you inherited together with your siblings. As expressly provided by the aforementioned law, you may legally demand to partition a divisible co-owned property such as the subject land in your case. And even if your parents placed a condition to prohibit a partition, this prohibition is limited only up to twenty (20) years, after which you may rightfully demand the partition of the co-owned property so that you may already have your share in the land titled separately under your name.
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 email@example.com