G.R. No. 194488. February 11, 2015
Petitioner Reyes, filed a Complaint before the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, for easement of right of way against respondents, Spouses Valentin. Petitioner alleged that respondents’ 1,500-square-meter property surrounded her property and that it was the only adequate outlet from her property to the highway. A 113-square-meter portion of respondents’ property was also the “point least prejudicial to the [respondents].
The respondents despite demands and willingness to pay the amount, respondents refused to accede to the petitioner’s claims. They contended that the isolation of petitioner’s property was due to her mother’s own act of subdividing the property among her children without regard to the pendency of an agrarian case between her and her tenants. The property chosen by the petitioner as an easement was also the most burdensome for respondents. Respondents pointed to an open space that connected the petitioner’s property to another public road.
The RTC denied the prayer and noted that the proposed right of way would pass through improvements, such as the respondents’ garage, garden, and grotto. The trial court also noted the existence of an irrigation canal that limited access to the public road
Whether the petitioner has the compulsory easement of right of way over the respondents’ property.
NO. Petitioner failed to satisfy the Civil Code requirements for the grant of easement rights. The acts of petitioner’s predecessor-in-interest necessarily affect the petitioner’s rights over the property. One of the requirements for the grant of an easement of right of way is that the isolation of the property is not due to the acts of the dominant estate’s owners. Assuming, however, that petitioner or her mother did not cause the isolation of petitioner’s property, petitioner still cannot be granted the easement of right of way over the proposed portion of respondents’ property. This is because she failed to satisfy the requirements for an easement of right of way under the Civil Code. Articles 649 and 650 of the Civil Code provide the requisites of an easement of right of way:
- An immovable is surrounded by other immovables belonging to other persons, and is without adequate outlet to a public highway;
- Payment of proper indemnity by the owner of the surrounding immovable;
- The isolation of the immovable is not due to its owner’s acts; and
- The proposed easement of right of way is established at the point least prejudicial to the servient estate, and insofar as consistent with this rule, where the distance of the dominant estate to a public highway may be the shortest.
An easement of right of way is a real right. When an easement of right of way is granted to another person, the rights of the property’s owner are limited. An owner may not exercise some of his or her property rights for the benefit of the person who was granted the easement of right of way. Hence, the burden of proof to show the existence of the above conditions is imposed on the person who seeks the easement of right of way.
Petitioner failed to establish that there was no adequate outlet to the public highway and that the proposed easement was the least prejudicial to respondents’ estate. There is an adequate exit to a public highway. In Dichoso, Jr. v. Marcos, the convenience of the dominant estate’s owner is not the basis for granting an easement of right of way, especially if the owner’s needs may be satisfied without imposing the easement.Based on the Ocular Inspection Report, petitioner’s property had another outlet to the highway. In between her property and the highway or road, however, is an irrigation canal, which can be traversed by constructing a bridge, similar to what was done by the owners of the nearby properties. The outlet referred to in the Ocular Inspection Report may be longer and more inconvenient to petitioner because she will have to traverse other properties and construct a bridge over the irrigation canal before she can reach the road. However, these reasons will not justify the imposition of an easement on respondents’ property because her convenience is not the gauge in determining whether to impose an easement of right of way over another’s property.
Imposing an easement on the part of respondents’ property for petitioner’s benefit would cost respondents not only the value of the property but also the value of respondents’ opportunity to use the property as a garage or a garden with a grotto.
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