I live here in Manila, but I have a titled land in the province registered in my name. I get to visit my land only every other year. In my most recent return to the province, I was surprised to discover that someone planted crops in my land and even built a makeshift resting hut without my knowledge. Upon investigation, I learned that the family next to my land did this to my property without my permission. Their excuse was that since I was not using my land, it is only fair, according to them, that they use it while I was away. I want to know now my rights to my land against the crops and the hut they built in my land.
According to your narration, the family next to your land built a hut and planted crops over your land without your permission and knowledge. Because of their brazen intrusion to your property without authorization from you as the land owner, they are considered as builders and planters in bad faith.
On the other hand, you are considered as a land owner in good faith since you mentioned that you were not aware that such hut and crops were built and planted in your land. In such a situation, the law provides for the specific rights in favor of the land owner in good faith, against those builders and planters in bad faith.
According to the Civil Code of the Philippines:
“Article 450. The owner of the land on which anything has been built, planted or sown in bad faith may demand the demolition of the work, or that the planting or sowing be removed, in order to replace things in their former condition at the expense of the person who built, planted or sowed; or he may compel the builder or planter to pay the price of the land, and the sower the proper rent.”
Considering the above cited law, you have the option of either demanding the demolition and removal of the hut and crops placed in your land at the expense of the builder and planter in bad faith or require them to pay the price or rent for their use of your land.
It is also important to note that the builders and planters in bad faith may not require you to pay for what they built or planted in your land since aside from the fact that the law entitles you to claim for damages against them, the law also specifically states that they will lose what they built or plant without indemnity since they did it in bad faith. (Articles 451 and 449, Id.) Despite this however, the law provides that the builders and planters in bad faith are entitled to be reimbursed for the necessary expenses they have made for the preservation of your land. (Article 452, Id.)
In conclusion, it is clear that you are entitled to exercise your legal rights cited above as a land owner in good faith against your unruly neighbors who acted in bad faith in building and planting in your land without your permission.
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