Tuesday, June 19, 2018
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Property rules

Understanding the process of reconstitution of title

(Last of two parts)

After the filing of a petition for judicial reconstitution of title, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) shall issue a notice thereof, which shall state, among others: (a) the number of the lost or destroyed certificate of title, if known; (b) the name of the registered owner; (c) the names of the occupants or persons in possession of the property; (d) the owners of adjoining properties and all other interested parties; (e) the location, area  and boundaries of the property; and (f) date on which all persons having interest therein must appear and file their claim or objections to the petition.

Within 30 days before the date of hearing, the RTC shall cause said notice to be: (a) published twice in successive issues of the Official Gazette, at petitioner’s expense; (b) posted on the main entrance of the provincial building and of the municipal building of the municipality or city in which the property is situated; and (c) sent by registered mail or otherwise, at petitioner’s expense, to every person named in said notice.

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In a long line of cases, the Supreme Court held that the requirements on the contents of said petition and the publication, posting and sending by mail of the abovementioned notice, are mandatory and jurisdictional. Failure to comply with these requirements will render the judicial reconstitution proceedings void.

Moreover, trial courts should exercise extreme caution in granting petitions for reconstitution of title because proceedings thereon may be misused as means of divesting individuals of the titles to their property.

Meanwhile, Republic Act No. 6732 provides for the administrative reconstitution of lost or destroyed certificate of title, which may only be availed of: (a) in case of substantial loss or destruction of land titles due to fire, flood, or other force majeure as determined by the Land Registration Authority (LRA) Administrator; (b) when the number of certificates of titles lost or damaged should be at least 10 percent of the total number in the possession of the Office of the Register of Deeds; and (c) when the number of titles lost or damaged is more than or equal to 500.

Administrative reconstitution of title may be based on the: (a) owner’s duplicate of the certificate of title; and (b) co-owner’s, mortgagee’s, or lessee’s duplicate of said certificate.

In its Circular No. 13 dated July 26, 1989, the LRA requires that the petition for administrative reconstitution of title shall state, among others: (a) petitioner’s full name, address  and other personal circumstances; (b) the nature of his interest in the property; and (c) the title number of the certificate of title sought to be reconstituted.

Said petition shall be accompanied with three clear and legible photocopies of the owner’s or co-owner’s duplicate of the certificate of title and the registered owner’s affidavit, stating that: (a) no deed or other instrument affecting the property had been presented for registration or, if there be any, the nature thereof, the date of its presentation, as well as the names of the parties, and whether the registration of such deed or instrument is still pending accomplishment; (b) the owner’s duplicate certificate or co-owner’s duplicate is in due form without any apparent intentional alterations or erasures; (c) the certificate of title is not the subject of litigation or investigation, administrative or judicial, regarding its genuineness or due execution or issuance; (d) the certificate of title was in full force and effect at the time it was lost or destroyed; (e) the certificate of title is covered by a declaration regularly issued by the Assessor’s Office; and (f) real estate taxes have been fully paid up to at least two years prior to the filing of said petition.

If the petition were based on the co-owner’s or mortgagee’s duplicate of the certificate of title, the petitioner shall state, in addition to the above-mentioned contents, that the owner’s duplicate has been lost or destroyed and the circumstances under which it was lost or destroyed.

Said petition may be filed with the Register of Deeds concerned by the registered owner, his assigns, or other persons, both natural and juridical, having an interest in the property. Thereafter, the Register of Deeds shall forward the petition and its accompanying documents, together with its comments, if any, to the Reconstituting Officer, whose order of reconstitution, however, may be reviewed, revised, reversed, or modified by the LRA upon appeal.

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