Raul V. Arambulo And Teresita A. Dela Cruz vs. Genaro Nolasco And Jeremy Spencer Nolasco
G.R. No. 189420. March 26, 2014
Ponente: Perez, J.,
Petitioners Raul V. Arambulo and Teresita A. Dela Cruz, along with their mother Rosita Vda. De Arambulo, and siblings Primo V. Arambulo, Ma. Lorenza A. Lopez, Ana Maria V. Arambulo, Maximiano V. Arambulo, Julio V. Arambulo and Iraida Arambulo Nolasco (Iraida) are co-owners of two (2) parcels of land located in Tondo, Manila, with an aggregate size of 233 square meters. When Iraida passed away, she was succeeded by her husband, respondent Genaro Nolasco and their children.
In 1999, petitioners filed a petition for relief under Article 491 of the Civil Code with the RTC of Manila, alleging that all of the co-owners, except for respondents, have authorized petitioners to sell their respective shares to the subject properties; and that under Article 491 of the Civil Code, if one or more co-owners shall withhold their consent to the alterations in the thing owned in common, the courts may afford adequate relief.
Respondents averred that they were not aware of the intention of petitioners to sell the properties they co-owned because they were not called to participate in any negotiations regarding the disposition of the property.
(1) Whether or not respondents, as co-owners, can be compelled by the court to give their consent to the sale of their shares in the co-owned properties.
Ruling of the RTC: In 2002, the trial court ruled in favor of petitioners and ordered respondents to give their consent to the sale. Going along with petitioners’ reliance on Article 491 of the Civil Code, the trial court found that respondents’ withholding of their consent to the sale of their shares is prejudicial to the common interest of the co-owners.
Ruling of the CA: The Court of Appeals granted the appeal of the respondents and reversed the trial court’s decision. The Court of Appeals held that the respondents had the full ownership of their undivided interest in the subject properties, thus, they cannot be compelled to sell their undivided shares in the properties. It referred to the provisions of Article 493 of the Civil Code. The court also found that petitioners failed to show how the withholding of consent by respondents becomes prejudicial to their common interest.
Ruling of the SC:
NO. The respondents cannot be ordered to sell their portion of the co-owned properties.
The Court of Appeals correctly applied the provision of Article 493 of the Civil Code, while the RTC erroneously applied Article 491 in this case.
Article 493 dictates that each one of the parties herein as co-owners with full ownership of their parts can sell their fully owned part. The sale by the petitioners of their parts shall not affect the full ownership by the respondents of the part that belongs to them. Their part which petitioners will sell shall be that which may be apportioned to them in the division upon the termination of the co-ownership.
Co-owners such as respondents have over their part, the right of full and absolute ownership. Such right is the same as that of individual owners which is not diminished by the fact that the entire property is co-owned with others. That part which ideally belongs to them, or their mental portion, may be disposed of as they please, independent of the decision of their co-owners.
Petitioners who project themselves as prejudiced co-owners may bring a suit for partition, which is one of the modes of extinguishing co-ownership. Article 498 of the Civil Code states that whenever the thing is essentially indivisible and the co-owners cannot agree that it be allotted to one of them who shall indemnify the others, it shall be sold and its proceeds accordingly distributed.
Art. 491. None of the co-owners shall, without the consent of the others, make alterations in the thing owned in common, even though benefits for all would result therefrom. However, if the withholding of the consent by one or more of the co-owners is clearly prejudicial to the common interest, the courts may afford adequate relief.
Art. 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the fruits and benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage it, and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when personal rights are involved. But the effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to the co-owners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the division upon the termination of the co-ownership.
Co-owners cannot be compelled by the court to give their consent to the sale of their shares in the co-owned properties. Article 493 of the Code defines the ownership of the co-owner, clearly establishing that each co-owner shall have full ownership of his part and of its fruits and benefits. Such right is the same as that of individual owners which is not diminished by the fact that the entire property is co-owned with others. That part which ideally belongs to them, or their mental portion, may be disposed of as they please, independent of the decision of their co-owners.