Asserting rights as a co-heir or owner of a property


Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I just found out that my sister was able to transfer the title of the property we inherited from our parents in her name. Worse, she is already planning to sell it to another person without my knowledge and consent. I am trying to contact my sister for an explanation, but I can’t reach her. A friend advised me to file an adverse claim and I intend to heed his advice, but will that move be enough to protect my interest in the property? Can you please enlighten me on what an adverse claim is? Thank you in advance.

Dear Cielito,
An adverse claim is a means to register one’s claim or interest in a registered land that is adverse or conflicting with the interest of the registered owner. It is used to register claims that are not specifically provided and dealt with by the Property Registration Decree.

The purpose of an adverse claim is to apprise third persons that there is a controversy over the ownership of the land, and to preserve and protect the right of the adverse claimant during the pendency of the controversy.

It is a notice to third persons that any transaction regarding the disputed land is subject to the outcome of a dispute (Torbela vs. Sps. Rosario, GR No. 140528, December 7, 2011, Ponente: Honorable Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro). Thus, it serves as a warning to all of the disputed nature of the subject property.

This notice and warning is important as it binds prospective buyer/transferee of the certificate of title to the outcome of the dispute, making any right that he may derive by virtue of the transfer subordinate to the claim of the adverse claimant. As succinctly declared by the Supreme Court: “While it is the act of registration which is the operative act which conveys or affects the land insofar as third persons are concerned, it is likewise true, that the subsequent sale of property covered by a Certificate of Title cannot prevail over an adverse claim, duly sworn to and annotated on the certificate of title previous to the sale” (Sajonas vs. Court of Appeals, GR No. 102377, July 5, 1996). Hence, the annotation of an adverse can preserve one’s interest in the property in case of transfer of the certificate of title to another person.

To such extent, the annotation of an adverse claim can be considered an effective remedy to protect one’s interest in a registered property. Nevertheless, the annotation of the adverse claim will only serve as a notice that there is controversy concerning the property. The issue of who has the real and legal right as between the registered owner and the adverse claimant is still left hanging. This can only be addressed if the parties come to an agreement, or upon adjudication by the proper court.

All told, we highly advise you to have your adverse claim as co-heir/owner annotated on the certificate of title of your sister. To do so, you have to execute a sworn statement setting forth fully your right or interest in the property, how or under whom you acquired the interest, a reference to the number of the certificate of title of the registered owner, the name of the registered owner, and a description of the subject land, and file it to the concerned registry of property (Sec. 70, Presidential Decree 1529). Yet, we still advise you to file the necessary action in court to assert your right as co-heir/owner of the subject property as soon as practicable in order to achieve full and final settlement of the issue.

We hope this opinion sufficiently addressed your concerns. Please bear in mind that this opinion is based solely on the facts you narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary if facts are changed or elaborated.

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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