Legal remedies to fake land title claims

It is a common law remedy grounded on equity the purpose of which is to obtain a decision that a claim of title to or an interest in the property, adverse to that of the complainant is invalid

September 22, 2022

Every Filipino wants to own land either because they want to build their dream home on it or just hold it as an investment.

The proliferation of fake land titles and fraudulent sales of lands in the Philippines, however, necessitates verifying first the rightful owner of the land, the authenticity of the title, and the existence or absence of encumbrance thereon. But what if, despite your due diligence on the property, you later discover that there are other people claiming rights over the property you just bought? What are your remedies under Philippine law?

The situation described above is what in legal parlance is called a cloud on the title. This means that there is a semblance of title or a claim or a right in real property which appears in some legal form but is, in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable. To address such a problem, the remedy is to file an action for quieting of title. It is a common law remedy grounded on equity the purpose of which is to obtain a decision that a claim of title to or an interest in the property, adverse to that of the complainant is invalid. In this manner, any adverse or hostile claim concerning the property involved will be put to an end.

In Dionisio Mananquil, et al. v. Roberto Moico, G.R. 180076, 12 November 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that in an action for quieting of title, the competent court will determine the respective rights of the complainant and other claimants, not only to place things in their proper place, to make one who has no right to said immovable respect and not disturb the other, but also for the benefit of both, so that he who has the right would see every cloud of doubt over the property dissipated, and he could afterward without fear introduce the improvements he may desire, to use and even to abuse the property as he deems best.

Under the Civil Code of the Philippines, for a quiet title to prosper, the following requisites must be met: (1) plaintiff must have a legal or equitable title to, or interest in the real property, which is the subject matter of the action, but he need not have the property; (2) there must be cloud on the title; and, (3) such cloud must be due to some instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding which is valid or effective but is in truth invalid, ineffective, voidable or unenforceable and is prejudicial to the plaintiff’s title.

The action to quiet title shall be filed either with the Municipal Trial Court or the Regional Trial Court depending on the assessed value of the real property.

In Guillermo Salvador et al., v. Patricia Inc., G.R. 195834, 9 November 2016, the Supreme Court held that Section 1, Rule 63 of the Rules of Court does not categorically require that an action to quiet title be filed before the RTC. The same provision specifically provides that the action for quieting of title “may be brought under the Rule” on petitions for declaratory relief, and a person desiring to file a petition for declaratory relief “may x x x bring an action in the appropriate Regional Trial Court.” The use of the word “may” in a statute denotes that the provision is merely permissive and indicates a mere possibility, an opportunity, or an option.


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