My family has been staying in a house and lot here in Quezon City for almost 40 years now. According to my father, the owner allowed us to stay in his property for as long as we like. They have also a verbal agreement that if the property will be sold, the owner will give 35 square meters of his land to us. When the owner died last year, his heirs now demand that we vacate the property because the property is already sold to somebody else. My father reminded the heirs of the 35 square meter-portion of the land that should be given to us since the land is already sold. The heirs claimed that they do not have any obligation to comply with the agreement that their father entered into during his lifetime. Can we enforce the verbal agreement entered by my father and the owner of the land in court?
The agreement entered into by your father and the landowner (deceased) that the latter will give 35 square meters of his land to the former if the land is sold is called donation. Donation is defined under Article 725 of the New Civil Code as an act of liberality whereby a person disposes gratuitously of a thing or right in favor of another, who accepts it.
Pursuant also to Article 749 of the code, “in order that the donation of an immovable may be valid, it must be made in a public document, specifying therein the property donated and the value of the charges which the donee must satisfy. Xxx xxx xxx.”
Article 1403 of the same code also provides:
“[T]he following contracts are unenforceable, unless they are ratified:
Xxx xxx xxx
(2) Those that do not comply with the statute of fraud as set forth in this number. In the following cases, an agreement hereafter made shall be unenforceable by action, unless the same, or some note or memorandum thereof, be in writing, and subscribed to by the party charged, or by his agent; evidence, therefore, of the agreement cannot be received without the writing, or a secondary evidence of its contents:
Xxx xxx xxx
(e) an agreement for the leasing for a longer period than one year, or for the sale of real property or of an interest therein.
Xxx xxx xxx
Applying these provisions of the law in your father’s situation, the verbal donation made by the deceased landowner in favor of your father involving the 35-square meter lot is not valid, because it was not done in writing and in a public document. The same agreement cannot be also enforced in court because it did not comply with the statute of fraud.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org