AGUILAR v. CA- Co-ownership
Any of the Co-owners may demand the sale of the house and lot at any time and the other cannot object to such demand; thereafter the proceeds of the sale shall be divided equally according to their respective interests.
Petitioner Vergilio and respondent Senen bought a house and lot in Paraňaque where their father could spend and enjoy his remaining years in a peaceful neighborhood. They initially agreed that Vergilio will get 2/3 and Senen will get 1/3; but later they agreed on equal shares. Senen was left in the said lot to take care of their father since Vergilio’s family was in Cebu. After their father’s death petitioner demanded from private respondent that the latter vacate the house and that the property be sold and proceeds thereof divided among them but the latter refused. Petitioner then filed to compel the sale of the property. The chunk of the issue tackled by the courts was regarding the pre-trial. Respondent filed a motion to cancel Pre-trial since the counsel had to accompany his wife in Dumaguete City where she would be a principal sponsor in a wedding. CFI denied the motion; and the pre-trial proceeded on the scheduled date. The respondents did not appear thus they were declared in default. The trial went on ex parte without the respondent and held that the property should be sold to a third party and that the proceeds be distributed to the parties; in addition respondent was made to pay rent from the time the action was filed. Respondents appealed this and the decision was reversed by the CA saying that the TC erred in declaring respondents in default; the case was then remanded to the trial court. Hence this appeal.
A) W/N CA erred (1) in holding that the motion of respondent through counsel to cancel the pre-trial was dilatory in character and (2) in remanding the case to the trial court for pre-trial and trial?
ISSUE RELEVANT TO PROPERTY:
B) W/N trial court was correct with regards to the sale and rent?
A) YES, CA erred in granting the respondents motion and remanding the case. The law is clear that the appearance of parties at the pretrial is mandatory. A party who fails to appear at a pre-trial conference may be non-suited or considered as in default. It is the discretion of the court to grant the motion if it sees that the reason for the cancelation of the same would be reasonable. SC found that the reason for the cancelation of the pre-trial was insufficient and that the trial court was not in grave abuse of discretion when they denied it.
B) YES, with a few modification. Petitioner and respondents are co-owners of subject house and lot in equal shares; either one of them may demand the sale of the house and lot at any time and the other cannot object to such demand; thereafter the proceeds of the sale shall be divided equally according to their respective interests.
BASIS: Article 494 of the Civil Code provides that no co-owner shall be obliged to remain in the co-ownership, and that each co-owner may demand at any time partition of the thing owned in common insofar as his share is concerned. Corollary to this rule, Art. 498 of the Code states that whenever the thing is essentially indivisible and the co-owners cannot agree that it be allotted to one of them who shall indemnify the others, it shall be sold and its proceeds accordingly distributed.
SC held that ½ of the proceeds should go to the petitioner and the remainder to the respondent (1,200 each.) Also rent was awarded 1,200 pesos per month with legal interest from the time the trial court ordered the respondent to vacate, for the use and enjoyment of the other half of the property.
BASIS: When petitioner filed an action to compel the sale of the property and the trial court granted the petition and ordered the ejectment of respondent, the co-ownership was deemed terminated and the right to enjoy the possession jointly also ceased.