No. L-11139. April 23, 1958
Concepcion, J., Ponente
In 1949, Santos Evangelista, instituted Civil Case for a sum of money in CFI – Manila. He obtained a writ of attachment, which was levied upon a house, built by Rivera on a land situated in Manila and leased to him, and filed a copy with the Office of the Register of Deeds of Manila. The judgment was rendered in favor of Evangelista, who bought the house at public auction in 1951. The deed of sale was issued to him in October 1952, after expiration of redemption period.
When Evangelista sought to take possession of the house, Rivera refused to surrender it, upon the ground that he had leased the property from the Alto Surety & Insurance Co., Inc.—respondent herein—and that the latter is now the true owner of said property. It appears that on May 10, 1952, a definite deed of sale of the same house had been issued to respondent, as the highest bidder at an auction sale held, on September 29, 1950, in compliance with a writ of execution issued in Civil Case No. 6268 of the same court.
Hence, on June 13, 1953, Evangelista instituted the present action against respondent and Ricardo Rivera, for the purpose of establishing his (Evangelista) title over said house, and securing possession thereof, apart from recovering damages.
In its answer, respondent alleged, in substance, that it has a better right to the house, because the sale made, and the definite deed of sale executed, in its favor, on September 29, 1950 and May 10, 1952, respectively, precede the sale to Evangelista (October 8, 1951) and the definite deed of sale in his favor (October 22, 1952).
(1) Whether or not a house, constructed by the lessee of the land on which it is built, should be dealt with, for purposes of attachment, as immovable property, or as personal property.
Ruling of the Court of First Instance of Manila:
After due trial, the Court of First Instance of Manila rendered judgment for Evangelista, sentencing Rivera and respondent to deliver the house in question to petitioner herein and to pay him, jointly and severally, forty pesos (P40.00) a month from October, 1952, until said delivery, plus costs.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals:
The decision was reversed by the Court of Appeals, which absolved said respondent from the complaint, upon the ground that, although the writ of attachment in favor of Evangelista had been filed with the Register of Deeds of Manila prior to the sale in favor of respondent, Evangelista did not acquire thereby a preferential lien, the attachment having been levied as if the house in question were immovable property, although, in the opinion of the Court of Appeals, it is “ostensibly a personal property.”
The house of Rivera should have been attached in accordance with subsection (c) of section 7 of Rule 59,” of the Rules of Court, as “personal property capable of manual delivery, by taking and safely keeping in his custody”, for it declared that “Evangelista could not have * * * validly purchased Ricardo Rivera’s house from the sheriff as the latter was not in possession thereof at the time he sold it at a public auction.”
Ruling of the SC:
No. A HOUSE is not personal property, much less a debt, credit or other personal property not capable of manual delivery, but immovable property. As explicitly held, in Laddera vs. Hodges (48 Off. Gaz., 5374), “a true building (not merely superimposed on the soil) is immovable -or real ‘property, whether it is erected by the owner of the land or by a usufructuary or lessee.
It is true that the parties to a deed of chattel mortgage may agree to consider a house as personal property for purposes of said contract. However, this view is good only insofar as the contracting parties are concerned. It is based, partly, upon the principle of estoppel. Neither this principle, nor said view, is applicable to strangers to said contract. Much less is it in point where there has been no contract whatsoever, with respect to the status of the house involved, as in the case at bar.
HOUSE is NOT PERSONAL BUT AN IMMOVABLE PROPERTY. It is true that the parties to a deed of chattel mortgage may agree to consider a house as personal property for purposes of said contract. However, this view is good only insofar as the contracting parties are concerned.