• Land ownership through acquisitive prescription

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    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My family and I have been peacefully and continuously living in a lot for more than 50 years now. The first occupants of the lot, who were succeeded by my parents, are already living abroad. We recently found out that the lot is not titled. Do we have any right to the lot and claim the same?

    Sincerely yours,
    Carlos

    Dear Carlos,
    The law that addresses your situation is Article 1137 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, which states:

    “Article 1137. Ownership and other real rights over immovables also prescribe through uninterrupted adverse possession thereof for thirty years, without need of title or of good faith.” (1959a)

    Related to this is the case of Soledad Calicdan vs. Silverio Cendaña (G.R No. 155080, February 5, 2004; ponente, former Supreme Court Associate Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago), which declared, viz:

    “Prescription is another mode of acquiring ownership and other real rights over immovable property. It is concerned with lapse of time in the manner and under conditions laid down by law, namely, that the possession should be in the concept of an owner, public, peaceful, uninterrupted and adverse. Acquisitive prescription is either ordinary or extraordinary. Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession in good faith and with just title for ten years. In extraordinary prescription, ownership and other real rights over immovable property are acquired through uninterrupted adverse possession thereof for thirty years without need of title or of good faith.

    x x x x x x x x x

    Assuming arguendo that ordinary acquisitive prescription is unavailing in the case at bar as it demands that the possession be “in good faith and with just title,” and there is no evidence on record to prove respondent’s “good faith,” nevertheless, his adverse possession of the land for more than 45 years aptly shows that he has met the requirements for extraordinary acquisitive prescription to set in.

    The records show that the subject land is an unregistered land. When the petitioner filed the instant case on June 29, 1992, respondent was in possession of the land for 45 years counted from the time of the donation in 1947. This is more than the required 30 years of uninterrupted adverse possession without just title and good faith. Such possession was public, adverse and in the concept of an owner. (Emphasis supplied)

    Hence, since you are living in the subject land for more than 50 years now, you can already claim ownership over the same by virtue of extraordinary acquisitive prescription of ownership. It is, however, indispensable that you should register the same and undergo the appropriate procedure in order that ownership can be transferred to you.

    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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