CASE BrieF NO. 2006-0281

NARCISA AVILA ET AL.  vs. Sps. BARABAT (March 17, 2006)

FACTS: The subject of this controversy is a parcel of land owned and registered in the name of Anunciacion Bahena vda. de Nemeo. Upon her death, ownership of the lot was transferred by operation of law to her five children, petitioners  Avila, Macapaz, Adlawan, Nemeo and Bahena. These heirs built their respective houses on the lot.

On July 1979, Avila decided to sell her house and share in the lot to her siblings but no one showed interest in it. She then offered it to Respondents, Sps. Barabat who agreed to buy it. Their agreement was evidenced by a private document dated July 17, 1979.

Sometime in early 1982, respondents were confronted by petitioner Adlawan who informed them that they had until March 1982 only to stay in Avilas place because he was buying the property.

Another letter was received by respondents from Atty. Joselito Alo informing them that Avila had sold her house and share to his clients, the spouses  Adlawan.

Respondents filed a complaint for the annulment of the deed of sale to the spouses Adlawan. Respondents anchored their claim over the property to the July 17, 1979 private document which they presented as Exhibit A.

Avila denied having offered to sell her property to respondents.

ISSUE: Whether petitioners have right to redemption over the subject lot.

RULING: Petitioners rely on Article 1623 in relation to Article 1620 of the Civil Code to justify their right of redemption. This is incorrect.

These provisions state:

“Art. 1620. A co-owner of a thing may exercise the right of redemption in case the shares of all the other co-owners or any of them, are sold to a third person. If the price of the alienation is grossly excessive, the redemptioner shall pay only a reasonable one.

Should two or more co-owners desire to exercise the right of redemption, they may only do so in proportion to the share they may respectively have in the thing owned in common.

x x x x x x x x x

Art. 1623. The right of legal pre-emption or redemption shall not be exercised except within thirty days from the notice in writing by the prospective vendor, or by the vendor, as the case may be. The deed of sale shall not be recorded in the Registry of Property, unless accompanied by an affidavit of the vendor that he has given written notice thereof to all possible redemptioners.

The right of redemption of co-owners excludes that of adjoining owners.”

Petitioners right to redeem would have existed only had there been co-ownership among petitioners-siblings. But there was none. 

For this right to be exercised, co-ownership must exist at the time the conveyance is made by a co-owner and the redemption is demanded by the other co-owner or co-owner(s).

However, by their own admission, petitioners were no longer co-owners when the property was sold to respondents in 1979. The co-ownership had already been extinguished by partition.

The regime of co-ownership exists when the ownership of an undivided thing or right belongs to different persons. By the nature of co-ownership, a co-owner cannot point to any specific portion of the property owned in common as his own because his share in it remains intangible and ideal.

Every act intended to put an end to indivision among co-heirs is deemed to be a partition. Here, the particular portions pertaining to petitioners had been ascertained and they in fact already took possession of their respective parts. The following statement of petitioners in their amended answer as one of their special and affirmative defenses was revealing:

“That all defendants [i.e., petitioners] in this case who are co-owners of lot 348 have their own respective buildings constructed on the said lot in which case it can be safely assumed that their respective shares in the lot have been physically segregated although there is no formal partition of the land among themselves.”

By their own admission, petitioners already segregated and took possession of their respective shares in the lot. Their respective shares were therefore physically determined, clearly identifiable and no longer ideal. Thus, the co-ownership had been legally dissolved. With that, petitioners right to redeem any part of the property from any of their former co-owners was already extinguished.

Source: NARCISA AVILA ET AL.  vs. Sps. BARABAT (March 17, 2006)