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TITLE III.

CO - OWNERSHIP

Art. 484. There is co-ownership whenever the ownership of an undivided thing or right
belongs to different persons.

In default of contracts, or of special provision, co-ownership shall be governed


by the provisions of this Title.

Definition: Co-ownership is that state where an undivided thing or right belongs to two or
more persons. (Art. 484). It is the right of common dominion which two or more persons have
in a spiritual part of a thing which is not physically divided.

Q. Is a co-ownership granted a juridical personality by law, like a corporation?


A. No. Thus, it cannot sue in court in the name of co-ownership. The co-owners can however
litigate in their individual capacities or join together as litigants.

Q. What governs Co-ownership (Art. 484)?


1.) Contracts
2.) Special legal provisions
3.) Provisions of the title of co-ownership

Art. 484 provides that -- in default of contracts or special legal provisions, apply the 3 rd

Q. What are the Sources of Co-ownership (or how does it arise)?

1. By law
2. By contract
3. By chance
4. By occupation
5. By succession or will

a.) By LAW –
Examples:
 party walls; party ditches;
 co-ownership of earnings by a man and a woman whose marriage is void, or who
are living together without the benefit of marriage – Art. 144, but there must be no
existing and valid conjugal partnership, as when either is already married to
someone else. (Juaniza v. Eugenio Jose, L-50127-28, 30 Mar.1979)

Sample Cases:

Mariano Adriano et al v. CA et al, GR 124118, Mar. 27, 2000


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Property acquired by a man while living with a common law wife during the
subsistence of his marriage is conjugal property, even when the property was
titled in the name of the common-law wife. In such case, a constructive trust is
deemed to have been created over the property which lawfully pertains to the
conjugal partnership of the subsisting marriage.

Tumlos v. Spouses Mario Fernandez, GR 137650, Apr. 12, 2000


If the actual contribution of a party is not proved, there will be no co-ownership
and no presumption of equal shares.

b.) By Contract – 2 persons buy land with their pooled money and agreed not to
divide for 5 years.

c.) By Chance – commixtion, confusion, hidden treasure (bet. finder & owner of
property)

d.) By Occupation or occupancy – 3 bros. cleared forest land declared later applied
for a homestead patent in their names without specific division of areas; 5
fisherman fished in the high seas and caught 1 ton of tuna; 3 cowboys caught 5
wild horses.

e.) By Succession or Will – intestate heirs before partition (Javier v. Javier, 6 Phi.
493), the successional estate being a co-ownership prior to partition.

Characteristics of Co-ownership:

1.) There must be more than one subject or owner.

2.) There is one physical whole divided into ideal (undivided) shares.

3.) Each ideal share is definite in amount, but is not physically segregated from
the rest.

4.) Each co-owner must respect each other in the common use, enjoyment or
preservation of the physical whole.

Thus, a co-owner cannot sell a definite or specific portion of the property and
disregard the interest of others. (Art. 486)

5.) Each co-owner holds an almost absolute control over his ideal share.

Thus, he is full owner of his proportionate ideal share, its fruits and benefits
which he may alienate, assign or mortgage. He may even substitute another
person in its enjoyment except when personal rights are involved. (Art. 493)

6.) It is not a juridical person; has no juridical personality.


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7.) A co-owner is in a sense a trustee for the other co-owners. Thus, he may not
ordinarily acquire exclusive ownership of the property held in common thru
prescription.

Differentiate Tenancy In Common (Co-ownership) from:


1.) Joint Tenancy (see p. 319, Paras Vol. 2, 16th ed.)
2.) Partnership (see pp. 320-321, id)
3.) Conjugal Partnership (see pp. 320-321, id)

NOTA BENE:

Q. A & B are co-heirs of an alluvium land (2has.) they inherited from their parents who occupied
the land with just title and in good faith for 8 years. While A was working abroad, his brother B,
occupied the same land for 2.5 years before the riparian owner X filed an accion publiciana
against B. If ownership of the land is granted in favor of B, will this also benefit A, even if he
cannot also claim adverse, open and continuous possession?
1.)Possession of a co-owner is like that of a trustee and shall not be regarded as adverse to
the other co-owners but in fact as beneficial to all of them. (Salvador v. CA, 60 SCAD 303,
1995)

Q. Doctors/friends X, Y, Z decided to buy 3,000 sq.m. lot in the province near the city, so they can
use this land as their weekend garden. X, Y & Z agreed to have 1,000sq.m. lot for each, planted
with veggies, fruit trees and flowers. X occupied the left portion lot, Y the middle and Z the right
portion lot.

2.) There is no co-ownership when the different portions owned by different people are
already concretely determined and identifiable, even if not yet technically described. (De la
Cruz v. Cruz, L-27759, Apr. 17, 1970)

Q. Assuming that X, Y, Z are co-owners of a 3-door apartment for rent. X as collateral for his loan
of P1M from A, assigned his share to the 3-d apt. to A, until X has fully paid his debt. Can X, validly
do this, even without the consent of Y & Z?

3.) A co-owner of an undivided parcel of land is an owner of the whole, and over the whole he
exercises the right of dominion but he is at the same time the owner of a portion which is truly
abstract. (De Guia v. CA, 413 SCRA 114, 2003).

4.) A co-owner can only alienate his pro indiviso share in the co-owned property. Thus, a co-
owner does not lose his part of ownership of a co-owned property when his share is
mortgaged by another co-owner without the former´s knowledge and consent. (Nufable v.
Nufable, 309 SCRA 692, 1999)

5.) A co-owner may validly lease his undivided interest to a third party. (Sanchez v. Court of
Appeals, 404 SCRA 540, 2003)

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Q. In the case above, A, by virtue of the assignment by X of his share as collateral for his loan to
A, and instructions of X, A occupied and claim door 1 as his share in the co-ownership. Can A do
this?

6.) Any co-owner may file an action under Art. 487 not only against a third person but also
against another co-owner who takes exclusive possession and asserts exclusive ownership
of the property (De Guia v. CA, supra)

Art. 485. The share of the co-owners, in the benefits as well as in the charges, shall be
proportional to their respective interests. Any stipulation in a contract to the contrary
shall be void.

The portions belonging to the co-owners in the co-ownership shall be presumed


equal, unless the contrary is proved.

Q. What is the Rule re Shares in Benefits and Charges by Co-owners?

1- The share of benefits and charges is proportional to the interest of each


co-owner.
2- Stipulation contrary to proportional sharing principle is VOID.
3- Shares or portions belonging to the co-owners in the co-ownership shall be presumed
equal, unless the contrary is proved.

Example: X makes a Will giving his 15-ha. mango & pomelo farm to his sons A,B,C in equal
shares (5has. each). One of the provisions states that the sharing in expenses and fruits or
benefits, are as follows: A-50%; B-30%; C-20%. Is this valid?

1. One view: Valid due to Art. 484, which provides that contracts shall govern co-
ownership first.

2. Another view: Void as Art. 485 is a specific provision making the stipulation void; it is an
express statement of public policy. Also, contracts shall not be contrary to
law, morals and public policy according to Art. 16 of CC.

Taxes: If a co-owner paid the taxes for the common property to avoid tax delinquency, he
can compel contribution from his co-owners.

But if he has not yet paid, he cannot compel his co-owners to pay to him the overdue taxes
as these are payable not to him, but to the govt. (Jalandoni and Ramos v. Guanzon and
Guanzon, L-10423, Jan. 1958).

Art. 486. Each co-owner may use the thing owned in common, provided he does so in
accordance with the purpose for which it is intended and in such a way as not to injure
the interest of the co-ownership or prevent the other co-owners from using it
according to their rights. The purpose of the co-ownership may be changed by
agreement, express or implied.
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Rule in Use of Property Owned in Common –

Gen. Rule: Each co-owner may use the thing owned in common.

Limitations:
1.) the interest of the co-ownership must not be injured or prejudiced,
2.) the other co-owners must not be prevented from using it

See cases of: Pardell v. Bartolome (principles of Art. 485 and 486; p. 323-324, Paras, Vol. II,
16th ed.)

Art. 487. Any one of the co-owners may bring an action in ejectment.

A co-owner may bring an action for ejectment which covers actions for recovery of
possession, (e.g. forcible entry and unlawful detainer), without the necessity of joining all the
other co-owners as co-plaintiff as this action is deemed instituted for the benefit of all.

Art. 487 is a case where 1 co-owner may bind the other co-owners.
Rule: Any one of the co-owners may bring an action in ejectment.

1. Q. X, Y, Z are co-owners of a lot occupied illegally by A. Can X alone file an ejectment


suit vs. A? If X wins the ejectment suit, must Y and Z share in the expense?

A. Yes, this is deemed a necessary expense to preserve the lot.

2. Q. What happens if X lost the case? Can Y and Z sue for ejectment against A?

A. No, it is barred by res judicata or by the prior judgment.

3. Q. X, Y, Z bought and co-owned a 3 ha. farm on credit. In an action by creditor to collect


payment for the farm, is it necessary that creditor sue all co-owners X,Y, Z?

A. Yes to bind Y and Z who co-owned the farm with X. Art. 487 contemplates a case when
it is the co-owner who files the suit, not when they are the defendants.

Read Cases of:


1.) Santiago et al. v. J.M. Tuason & Co. Inc., L-14223, Nov. 23, 1960 (p.327, Paras)
2.) De Guia v. CA, 413 SCRA 114, 2003 (id.)

Art. 488. Each co-owner shall have a right to compel the other co-owners to contribute
to the expenses of preservation of the thing or right owned in common and to the
taxes. Any one of the latter may exempt himself from this obligation by renouncing so
much of his undivided interest as may be equivalent to his share of the expenses and
taxes. No such waiver shall be made if it is prejudicial to the co-ownership.
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Expenses for Preservation – a co-owner can compel others to share in preservation
expenses, even if incurred without prior notification to them. But he must notify the co-owners
if practicable. (Art. 489)

Exemption from Expenses, How:

1.) A co-owner may exempt himself from duty to reimburse by renouncing (or abandoning
for the benefit of the others) so much of his undivided share equivalent to his share of
the expenses and taxes.

2.) The co-owner renouncing however does not renounce his entire interest in the co-
ownership.

3.) Further, renouncing cannot be done if the co-ownership will be prejudiced.

What Renouncing Requires:

a.) If the renouncing is in favor of the creditor, the creditor must give his consent (for this
would be a case of adjudicacion en pago, or datio in solutum, where a debtor gives
something else in payment of his debt).

b.) If the renouncing is in favor of other co-owners, a novation (in the form of substitution
of debtor) would result – necessitating the consent of the co-owners and of the
creditor.

The creditor´s consent would be needed only if the expenses have already been
incurred, otherwise, there would as yet be no creditor.

What happens if the co-owner/s who paid or the creditor refuses to accept the offer by the
other co-owner to renounce his undivided rights to pay for the necessary expenses?

A. The co-owner cannot validly renounce, and he is considered as a debtor to the co-
owner who paid, or to the credit in so far as his unpaid share is concerned.

What Reimbursement Covers – only Necessary Expenses, like for preservation of a house
in a ruinous condition, and not for useful improvements, even if the value of property is
increased, the purpose of co-ownership not being for profit.

Renunciation Cannot be Implied – by mere refusal to pay the proportional share. If there is
refusal to pay but no renunciation, the creditors can still collect from the delinquent co-owner.
Here, the other co-owners need not intervene as they are not prejudiced.

Art. 489. Repairs for preservation may be made at the will of one of the co-owners, but
he must, if practicable, first notify his co-owners of the necessity for such repairs.
Expenses to improve or embellish the thing shall be decided upon by a majority as
determined in Article 492.
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Number of Co-owners who must Consent:
1.) Repairs, ejectment action - ONE (Art. 489)
2.) Alterations or acts of Ownership – ALL (Art. 491)
3.) Others, e.g. useful improvements, administration,
luxurious embellishments – Financial Majority (not numerical) Art. 492 & 489

Rules as to NECESSARY REPAIRS:

1. A co-owner can go ahead with necessary repairs even against opposition of other co-
owners because negligence of the others should not prejudice him. He may advance
the funds and recover from the others. Or he can contract with repairmen and all co-
owners will be liable proportionately to him if he advanced the payment, or to the
creditors if the latter consented that payment will be made by all co-owners.

2. Those co-owners who made unjustified opposition shall be liable if damage resulted
due to their opposition to the necessary repairs to be undertaken.

3. If practicable, a co-owner must first notify his co-owners. If no such notification was
made though it was practicable to do so, the co-owners would still be liable for the
necessary repairs, for they would be liable even if they oppose it.

4. However, the co-owner may possibly present proof so as to pay less in case they were
not first notified despite being practicable to do so.

Art. 490. Whenever the different stories of a house belong to different owners, if the
titles of ownership do not specify the terms under which they should contribute to the
necessary expenses and there exists no agreement on the subject, the following rules
shall be observed:

1.) The main and party walls, the roof and the other things used in common,
shall be preserved at the expense of all the owners in proportion to the value
of the story belonging to each;

2.) Each owner shall bear the cost of maintaining the floor or his story; the floor
of the entrance, front door, common yard and sanitary works common to all,
shall be maintained at the expense of all the owners pro rata;

3.) The stairs from the entrance to the first story shall be maintained at the
expense of all the owners pro rata, with the exception of the owner of the
ground floor; the stairs from the first to the second story shall be preserved
at the expense of all, except the owner of the ground floor and the owner of
the first story; and so on successively.

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PERPENDICULAR CO-OWNERSHIP – where different stories belong to different persons;
its still co-ownership for there is unity in the use or ornamentation of the property, particularly
in the main and common walls, roof, stairs, etc.

The rules in this Article apply only if there is no contrary provision in the titles of ownership or
agreement.

HORIZONTAL CO-OWNERSHIP – where various units are in one plane, as when one-story
units are all set on the ground.

RULES ON PERPENDICULAR CO-OWNERSHIP:


1.) Proportionate contribution is required for the preservation of --
a. Main walls
b. Party walls
c. Roof (used by All)
d. Other things or areas used in common

2.) Each floor owner bears the expenses of his floor.


3.) Stairs are to be maintained from story to story by the users.
4.) Ground floor if any, is distinct from the First Story (Art. 490)