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Digest: AGUILAR vs. CA

Digest: VIRGILIO B. AGUILAR  vs. COURT OF APPEALS and SENEN B. AGUILAR
G.R. No. 76351 October 29, 1993
BELLOSILLO, J.: 

Facts:

Petitioner Virgilio and respondent Senen are brothers. On 28 October 1969, the two brothers purchased a house and lot in ParaƱaque where their father could spend and enjoy his remaining years in a peaceful neighborhood. Initially, the brothers agreed that Virgilio's share in the co-ownership was two-thirds while that of Senen was one-third. By virtue of a written memorandum dated 23 February 1970, Virgilio and Senen agreed that henceforth their interests in the house and lot should be equal, with Senen assuming the remaining mortgage obligation of the original owners with the Social Security System (SSS) in exchange for his possession and enjoyment of the house together with their father.

Since Virgilio was then disqualified from obtaining a loan from SSS, the brothers agreed that the deed of sale would be executed and the title registered in the meantime in the name of Senen. It was further agreed that Senen would take care of their father and his needs since Virgilio and his family were staying in Cebu.

After Maximiano Aguilar died in 1974, petitioner demanded from private respondent that the latter vacate the house and that the property be sold and proceeds thereof divided among them.

Because of the refusal of respondent to give in to petitioner's demands, the latter filed on 12 January 1979 an action to compel the sale of the house and lot so that the they could divide the proceeds between them.

In his complaint, petitioner prayed that the proceeds of the sale, be divided on the basis of two-thirds (2/3) in his favor and one-third (1/3) to respondent. Petitioner also prayed for monthly rentals for the use of the house by respondent after their father died.

In his answer with counterclaim, respondent alleged that he had no objection to the sale as long as the best selling price could be obtained; that if the sale would be effected, the proceeds thereof should be divided equally; and, that being a co-owner, he was entitled to the use and enjoyment of the property.

RTC rendered judgment by default against defendant, the trial court found him and plaintiff to be co-owners of the house and lot, in equal shares on the basis of their written agreement. However, it ruled that plaintiff has been deprived of his participation in the property by defendant's continued enjoyment of the house and lot, free of rent, despite demands for rentals and continued maneuvers of defendants, to delay partition. The trial court also upheld the right of plaintiff as co-owner to demand partition.

The trial court likewise ordered defendant to vacate the property and pay plaintiff P1,200.00 as rentals

ISSUE:

          Whether or not each co-owner of the property has the absolute right to use the house and lot without paying any compensation to other parties.

HELD:

Article 494 of the Civil Code provides that no co-owner shall be obliged to remain in the co-ownership, and that each co-owner may demand at any time partition of the thing owned in common insofar as his share is concerned. Corollary to this rule, Art. 498 of the 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. This is resorted to (1) when the right to partition the property is invoked by any of the co-owners but because of the nature of the property it cannot be subdivided or its subdivision would prejudice the interests of the co-owners, and (b) the co-owners are not in agreement as to who among them shall be allotted or assigned the entire property upon proper reimbursement of the co-owners. In one case,  this Court upheld the order of the trial court directing the holding of a public sale of the properties owned in common pursuant to Art. 498 of the Civil Code.

However, being a co-owner respondent has the right to use the house and lot without paying any compensation to petitioner, as he may use the property owned in common long as it is in accordance with the purpose for which it is intended and in a manner not injurious to the interest of the other co-owners. Each co-owner of property held pro indiviso exercises his rights over the whole property and may use and enjoy the same with no other limitation than that he shall not injure the interests of his co-owners, the reason being that until a division is made, the respective share of each cannot be determined and every co-owner exercises, together with his co-participants joint ownership over the pro indiviso property, in addition to his use and enjoyment of the 
same. 

Since petitioner has decided to enforce his right in court to end the co-ownership of the house and lot and respondent has not refuted the allegation that he has been preventing the sale of the property by his continued occupancy of the premises, justice and equity demand that respondent and his family vacate the property so that the sale can be effected immediately. In fairness to petitioner, respondent should pay a rental of P1,200.00 per month, with legal interest; from the time the trial court ordered him to vacate, for the use and enjoyment of the other half of the property appertaining to petitioner. 


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