Bad neighbor

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - August 27, 2014 - 12:00am

A builder, planter or sower on the land of another acts in good faith when he believes that the land belongs to him or that by some title, he has a right to build, plant or sow thereon.

This case of Manuel explains to us the rights of the landowner and the builder in good faith.

Manuel is the owner of a 9,000 square meter property situated in his hometown.  Adjoining his land is the lot of Andres with an approximate area of only 231 square meters.

Sometime in 1972 Andres constructed his house on his lot. It turned out however that the kitchen of the house had encroached on Manuel’s property by 34 square meters.

A reduction of 34 square meters from 9,000 square meters property may be insignificant especially if it goes to a poor neighbor who owns only 231 square meters.

But not for Manuel. He had a relocation survey of the adjoining lots and when it was confirmed that the kitchen of Andres indeed encroached on his land by 34 square meters, he filed a suit against Andres to remove the kitchen.

Can Manuel do this?

No. Andres is in good faith here. Manuel himself admits this. The encroachment was ascertained only after the relocation survey. So Manuel cannot just ask Andres to remove the kitchen.  He is entitled to ask for its removal only after offering to sell the encroached land to Andres and the latter failed to buy and pay its price.  On the other as a builder in good faith in another’s land, Andres is entitled to retain possession of the land until he is paid the value of the kitchen, but Manuel has the option either to pay the value of the kitchen or to sell that portion of his land to Andres. He has to choose either — but he cannot just ask Andres to remove his kitchen (Depra vs. Dumlao 136 SCRA 475).

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