Better right in case of double sale

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I was able to purchase a lot amounting to P50,000. When I tried to transfer the lot into my name, it was discovered that the owner sold it to another person, who was able to register it in his name first. Who has a better right over the lot?
Sincerely yours,
Quintero

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Dear Quintero,
The law that addresses your situation is Article 1544 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, which states the following:

“Art. 1544. If the same thing should have been sold to different vendees, the ownership shall be transferred to the person who may have first taken possession thereof in good faith, if it should be movable property.

Should it be immovable property, the ownership shall belong to the person acquiring it who in good faith first recorded it in Registry of Property.

Should there be no inscription, the ownership shall pertain to the person who in good faith was first in the possession; and, in the absence thereof, to the person who presents the oldest title, provided there is good faith.”

Related to this is the case of Hospicio D. Rosaroso et al vs Lucila Laborte Soria (GR No. 194846, June 19, 2013, Ponente: Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza), which declared, viz:

“Otherwise stated, ownership of an immovable property which is the subject of a double sale shall be transferred: (1) to the person acquiring it who in good faith first recorded it in the Registry of Property; (2) in default thereof, to the person who in good faith was first in possession; and (3) in default thereof, to the person who presents the oldest title, provided there is good faith. The requirement of the law then is two-fold: acquisition in good faith and registration in good faith. Good faith must concur with the registration. If it would be shown that a buyer was in bad faith, the alleged registration they have made amounted to no registration at all.”

Hence, if the second buyer was the first one to register the lot in his name in the Registry of Deeds and he can prove that he was a buyer in good faith taking into account that he was not aware of the first sale, then he has a better right over the subject lot.

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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