Tolerated stay in premises must be established in an unlawful detainer case | Inquirer Business
Property rules

Tolerated stay in premises must be established in an unlawful detainer case

In an action for unlawful detainer, plaintiff has permitted defendant to occupy or otherwise possess a certain land or building through an express or implied contract between them.

Subsequently, however, plaintiff may be unlawfully withheld from possessing the subject property, thus seeking the recovery of its possession in this action, when defendant has refused to comply with the former’s demand to vacate the same because of the expiry or termination of the right to possess under the contract.

Pursuing this action means sufficiently proving defendant’s initially lawful possession of the subject property under a contract with, or by the tolerance of, plaintiff, which the Supreme Court addresses in Emma Buenviaje Nabo and All Persons Claiming Rights under Her v. Felix C. Buenviaje.


In this case, respondent Felix Buenviaje is the registered owner of a parcel of land by virtue of the Municipal Trial Court’s (MTC) decision directing that title thereto be issued in his favor. From the time of such issuance, he allowed his niece, petitioner Emma Buenviaje Nabo, to stay in the subject property, subject to his discretion to take it back and thus, for her to peacefully surrender and vacate the premises.


Subsequently, Felix sent a letter, informing Emma and all persons claiming rights under her that he was withdrawing Emma’s authority and that they had 15 days from notice within which to vacate and peacefully surrender to him the subject property. Emma refused to comply with Felix’s demand, constraining the latter to file the instant complaint for ejectment with damages against Emma and all such other persons.

In her answer, Emma alleged that since her childhood, she had been residing the subject property, which was registered in her father’s name. Afterwards, she formally acquired the same when she and her spouse executed a deed of sale with her father.

Despite being aware of Emma’s possession of the said property, Felix tried to convince her to consolidate its title with his unregistered adjacent property so that his son could obtain a loan with these properties as collateral. Emma refused to heed this proposal, as well as Felix’s subsequent suggestion that they simulate a sale where the subject property would be exchanged for another property of his.

Emma became aware of the case before the MTC which Felix’s title to the subject property is based on. While she wanted to oppose Felix’s claim therein, she did not attend the consequent hearings when he assured her that he would take care of the dropping of the case, thus supposedly rendering unnecessary her attendance to further hearings.

The MTC dismissed the instant complaint, finding that Felix’s claim of ownership, which carried with it his right of possession, was unavailing in an ejectment suit. Upon appeal, however, the Regional Trial Court and Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the MTC’s decision. In particular, the Court of Appeals held that as the registered owner of the subject property, Felix had the corresponding right to its recovery and possession. Thus, Emma was not entitled to unjustly withhold its possession and should have immediately vacated its premises.

In reversing and setting aside the Court of Appeals’ decision, the Supreme Court held that Felix had failed to prove that he merely tolerated Emma’s possession of the subject property. To be sure, he failed to identify and prove overt acts indicating his tolerance of such possession in this case.


Moreover, Felix failed to identify when he started to tolerate Emma’s occupation of the subject property. He only established that he tolerated Emma’s occupation of the premises upon the issuance of the title in his name and thus, could not account for supposedly tolerating her prior physical possession of the same for over 30 years, or before such issuance.

Meanwhile, Emma substantiated her claim of possession indicating ownership with tax declarations in her and her spouse’s names and receipts reflecting her consistent payment of real property taxes over the subject property.

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With its ruling, the Supreme Court clarified that the occupant of the subject property could not have weighed more than the person claiming ownership by virtue of a title. Rather, it could only mean that even the legal owner of a certain property cannot simply oust another who is in peaceable quiet possession thereof through an action for unlawful detainer, while failing to establish its essential requisites.

TAGS: land, property

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