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Digest: Pardell v. Bartolome

Pardell v. Bartolome

23 Phil. 450, G.R. No. L-4656, November 18, 1912



Spouses Miguel Ortiz and Calixta Felin died in 1875 and 1882, respectively. Prior to her death, Calixta, executed, on August 17, 1876, a nuncupative will, whereby she made her four children, named Manuel, Francisca, Vicenta, and Matilde, surnamed Ortiz y Felin, her sole and universal heirs of all her property. Manuel and Francisca were already deceased, leaving Vicenta and Matilda as heirs.In 1888, the defendants (Matilde and Gaspar), without judicial authorization, nor friendly or extrajudicial agreement, took upon themselves the administration and enjoyment of the properties left by Calixta and collected the rents, fruits, and products thereof, to the serious detriment of Vicenta’s interest. Despite repeated demands to divide the properties and the fruits accruing therefrom, Sps Gaspar and Matilde had been delaying the partition and delivery of the said properties by means of unkempt promises and other excuses. Vicenta filed a petition for partition with damages in the RTC.

RTC absolved Matilde from payment of damages. It held that the revenues and the expenses were compensated by the residence enjoyed by the defendant party, that no losses or damages were either caused or suffered, nor likewise any other expense besides those aforementioned, Counsel for Matilde took an exception to the judgment and moved for a new trial on the grounds that the evidence presented did not warrant the judgment rendered and that the latter was contrary to law. That motion was denied by the lower court. Thus, this petition.


Whether or not a co-owner is required to pay for rent in exclusively using the co-owned property


No. Article 394 of the Civil Code (Article 486 of the New Civil Code) prescribes: "Each co-owner may use the things owned in common, provided he uses them in accordance with their object and in such manner as not to injure the interests of the community nor prevent the co-owners from utilizing them according to their rights."

Matilde Ortiz and her husband occupied the upper story, designed for use as a dwelling, in the house of  joint ownership; but the record shows no proof that, by so doing, the said Matilde occasioned any detriment to the interests of the community property, nor that she prevented her sister Vicenta from utilizing the said upper story according to her rights. It is to be noted that the stores of the lower floor were rented and an accounting of the rents was duly made to the plaintiffs. Each co-owner of realty 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 coowners, for the reason that, until a division be made, the respective part of each holder cannot be determined and every one of the coowners exercises together with his other co participants, joint ownership over the pro indiviso property, in addition to his use and enjoyment of the same.

As the hereditary properties of the joint ownership of the two sisters, Vicenta Ortiz, plaintiff, and Matilde Ortiz, defendant, were situated in the Province of Ilocos Sur, and were in the care of the last named, assisted by her husband, while the plaintiff Vicenta with her husband was residing outside of the said province the greater part of the time between 1885 and 1905, when she left these Islands for Spain, it is not at all strange that delays and difficulties should have attended the efforts made to collect the rents and proceeds from the property held in common and to obtain a partition of the latter, especially during several years when, owing to the insurrection, the country was in a turmoil; and for this reason, aside from that founded on the right of co-ownership of the defendants, who took upon themselves the administration and care of the property of joint tenancy for purposes of their preservation and improvement, these latter are not obliged to pay to the plaintiff Vicenta one-half of the rents which might have been derived from the upper story of the said house on Calle Escolta, and, much less, because one of the living rooms and the storeroom thereof were used for the storage of some belongings and effects of common ownership between the litigants. The defendant Matilde, therefore, in occupying with her husband the upper floor of the said house, did not injure the interests of her co owner, her sister Vicenta, nor did she prevent the latter from living therein, but merely exercised a legitimate right pertaining to her as a co owner of the property.

Notwithstanding the above statements relative to the joint-ownership rights which entitled the defendants to live in the upper story of the said house, yet, in view of the fact that the record shows it to have been proved that the defendant Matilde's husband, Gaspar de Bartolome, occupied for four years a room or apart of the lower floor of the same house on Calle Escolta, using it as an office for the justice of the peace, a position which he held in the capital of that province, strict justice requires that he pay his sister-in-law, the plaintiff, one-half of the monthly rent which the said quarters could have produced, had they been leased to another person. 

The amount of such monthly rental is fixed at P16 in appearance with the evidence shown in the record. This conclusion as to Bartolome's liability results from the fact that, even as the husband of the defendant co owner of the property, he had no right to occupy and use gratuitously the said part of the lower floor of the house in question, where he lived with his wife, to the detriment of the plaintiff Vicenta who did not receive one-half of the rent which those quarters could and should have produced, had they been occupied by a stranger, in the same manner that rent was obtained from the rooms on the lower floor that were used as stores.

Therefore, the defendant Bartolome must pay to the plaintiff Vicenta P384, that is, one-half of P768, thetotal amount of the rents which should have been obtained during four years from the quarters occupied as anoffice by the justice of the peace of Vigan.

The Supreme Court rendered partial reversal of RTC judgment.

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