I have two brothers and we inherited a house from our deceased parents. We are currently in conflict because of the sharing of the expenses in the maintenance of our house. One of my brothers refuses to give his reasonable share in the expenses of our house. Because of this, we want to know which one of us is obligated to pay for the daily expenses and taxes for our house. Thank you!
According to Article 484 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, there is co-ownership when different persons own an undivided thing. Such is the case in your situation since you and your brothers co-own a house which is undivided. Considering this, the law on co-ownership applies to your query which states that:
“Article 485. The share of the co-owners, in the benefits as well as in the charges, shall be proportional to their respective interests. Any stipulation in a contract to the contrary shall be void. The portions belonging to the co-owners in the co-ownership shall be presumed equal, unless the contrary is proved. (Civil Code of the Philippines)”
As such, both the benefits and expenses in the co-ownership of your inherited house will be equally shared between you and your brothers as co-owners in the absence of any agreements on the contrary.
Furthermore, another provision on the law on co-ownership states that a co-owner has the right to compel the other co-owners to contribute in the expenses of the preservation of a co-owned property. (Article 488, Ibid.) Despite this, any of the co-owner may exempt himself from such obligation by renouncing the portion of his undivided interest equivalent to his share of the expenses and taxes unless it is prejudicial to the co-ownership. (Ibid.)
Thus, you and your brothers are legally obligated to share equally in the payment of expenses of your co-owned property in the absence of any valid agreement. And as provided by law, it is within your legal rights as a co-owner to require your co-owner brothers to give their share in the expenses for the preservation of your co-owned property.
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