IGNAO V. IAC
When co-ownership is terminated by division of land, Art 448 applies to parties in good faith. The party whose land is encroached upon has the sole right to choose whether to sell his land encroached or to appropriate that which encroaches his land.
The case involves Petitioner Florencio Ignao and his Uncles Juan and Isidro Ignao as Respondents. Both Petitioner and Respondents co-owned land with 534 sqm (about the size of an Olympic swimming pool.) in Cavite. The parties had a falling out (maybe the uncles had bad breath) and so attempted to partition the land, with 133 going to the uncles and 266 going to Petitioner. The attempt failed. Later, Petitioner discovered that the two houses of Respondent uncles encroached his land. Juan ate 42 sqm and Isidro ate 59 sqm… for the grand total of 101 sqm. He complained.
The RTC said that uncles built in good faith therefore that exempts them from damages. Art 448 therefore applies But things didn’t go to well for the Petitioner. The RTC said that if Petitioner opted to appropriate the sections of the encroaching houses, the Uncles will be left with worthless hovels. Hence, RTC ordered Petitioner to just sell his land which was encroached. “No Good!” cried Petitioner and he appealed to the IAC. He lost again. Petitioner trooped to the SC for vindication
1. Whether or not Petitioner has the right to choose whether to appropriate the house encroaching his land or to sell his land.
2. Whether or not the courts and respondents can rob Petitioner of the options provided for under Art 448.
Petitioner has the right whether to appropriate the houses or to sell his land! The ruling of the RTC and IAC contravened the explicit provisions of Art 448 which granted him the explicit right to choose. The law is clear when it bestows choice upon the aggrieved land owner and not upon the builders or the courts.