Unrequited generosity | Inquirer Business
PROPERTY RULES

Unrequited generosity

It is 10 p.m. in the evening.

Rosario turned off her computer and called it a day. Soon, her long hours of work were rewarded. She had the good fortune of seeing a lot of zeroes in her passbook.

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One day, she received news from her sister, Arlene, that the latter’s home burned down. She immediately sent money to Arlene with the instructions to look for a lot where Arlene and her family could transfer and settle.

Rosario allowed Arlene to build a house on her property. In a letter, Rosario even reiterated her desire to allow Arlene and her family, and their other kins to use her land as long as they like. It was clear in her letter, however, that should anyone of Rosario’s kins who cannot live in harmony with her or with one another may exercise the freedom to look for his own.

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Following her retirement, Rosario went home to live with Arlene and her family. The relationship between Rosario and Arlene soon turned sour when the former’s generosity was paid by the latter with unkindness.

Soon, Rosario, asserting her right as owner of the land, demanded Arlene to vacate the house. Arlene, on the other, argued she and her family could not be evicted because she built her house with Rosario’s knowledge and express consent. Arlene even showed Rosario’s letter stating that Arlene and her family could stay and use the land as long as they like.

 

Q: What was the legal relationship that was created when Rosario allowed Arlene to build her family’s home on the former’s lot?

A: What was constituted between the parties herein is one of usufruct over a piece of land, with Rosario being the owner of the property upon whom the naked title thereto remained and Arlene and her family being two (2) among other unnamed usufructuaries who were simply referred to as her kins. (Moralidad vs. Piernes, G.R. No. 152809 August 3, 2006)

Q: What is usufruct?

A: Usufruct gives a right to enjoy the property of another with the obligation of preserving its form and substance, unless the title constituting it or the law otherwise provides. Usufruct, in essence, is nothing else but simply allowing one to enjoy another’s property. It is also defined as the right to enjoy the property of another temporarily, including both the jus utendi and the jus fruendi, with the owner retaining the jus disponendi or the power to alienate the same. (Art. 562, Civil Code; Moralidad vs. Piernes, G.R. No. 152809 August 3, 2006)

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Q: Was the usufructuary relationship?

A: Yes, the continuing animosity between Rosario and Arlene or the cessation of harmonious relationship between them constitutes a resolutory condition which, by express wish of the Rosario, extinguishes the usufruct.

 

Q: Can Arlene demand reimbursement for the expenses her family incurred when they had their house built on Rosario’s land?

A: By express provision of law, Arlene, as usufructuary, does not have the right to reimbursement for the improvements they may have introduced on the property. (Arts. 579 and 580, Civil Code) Arlene and her family could be ordered to vacate the premises without any right of reimbursement. She can, however, remove or destroy the improvements they may have introduced thereon without damaging the petitioner’s property. (Moralidad vs. Piernes, G.R. No. 152809 August 3, 2006)

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TAGS: House, Moralidad vs. Piernes, Passbook, property, usufructuary relationship
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