I am planning to buy a piece of land. However, upon verification, I found out that the title of the land has an annotated adverse claim from the owner’s illegitimate children. The registered owner of the land is already dead and his legitimate children are selling the land to me. Can I still buy the property even if it has an adverse claim? Or can I just buy such portion of the land that may be given to the legitimate children?
Section 70 of Presidential Decree No. (PD No.) 1529 otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree allows any person who claims any part or interest in a registered land adverse to the registered owner, to make a statement in writing setting forth his alleged right or interest and register the same in the certificate of title of the land. The annotation of an adverse claim on the title of a registered land is done to inform all persons who may have transactions involving the land that there is a controversy over its ownership and to preserve and protect the right of the adverse claimant during the pendency of the controversy. It shall also serve a notice to third persons that any transaction involving the disputed land shall be subject to the outcome of the dispute (Justice Oswaldo D. Agcaoili, Property Registration Decree and Related Laws (2006 Ed), page 537).
Since the registered owner of the land which you intend to buy is already dead, the ownership of his property shall pass to his heirs—his legitimate and illegitimate children. In the meantime that the property has not yet been divided among the heirs, all the legitimate and the illegitimate children of the deceased owner shall be considered as co-owners of the land. Being co-owners, the legitimate children shall have the full ownership of their part of the land and they may therefore sell or alienate it. However since the land has not yet been divided, the effect of the alienation with respect to the co-owners shall be limited only to the portion which may be allotted to the legitimate heirs once their co-ownership is terminated (Article 493, Civil Code of the Philippines). This means that without partition, neither heir may validly pinpoint a particular portion of the land and sell it. What may only be sold before the partition of the land is the successional right of the heir. (Carvajal vs. Court of Appeals, GR No. L-44426, February 25, 1982). Hence, you may still buy the share of the legitimate children of the deceased owner of the land. But since the land has not yet been partitioned, you cannot legally claim any definite portion of the land as the part that was sold to you. Moreover, since the land which you want to buy has an annotated adverse claim, you shall also hold the risk that your rights as the buyer of a portion of the land shall yield to whatever will be the outcome of the dispute on which the adverse claim is grounded.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.