FRANCEL REALTY v. CA | SYCIP, 252 SCRA 127- P.D. 957

Where an action for unlawful detainer is based on P.D. 957 (defective construction), HLURD, not the MTC, has jurisdiction.


Francel alleged that it had executed a Contract to Sell to Sycip a property in Cavite, for P451,000.00. The Contract to Sell provides that in case of default in the payment of two or more installments, the whole obligation will become due and demandable and the seller will then be entitled to rescind the contract and take possession of the property; the buyer will vacate the premises without the necessity of any court action and the downpayment will be treated as earnest money or as rental for the use of the premises. Francel alleged that Sycip failed to pay the monthly amortization of P9,303.00 since October 30, 1990 despite demands to update his payments and to vacate the premises, the latest of which was the demand made in the letter dated September 26, 1992, so Francel filed in the MTC an action for unlawful detainer and award for costs and damages.

Sycip, on the other hand filed a motion o dismiss the case on the ground that he stopped paying because the townhouse sold to him was of defective construction; that in fact a case for unsound real estate business practice is pending in the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

MTC granted the dismissal on the ground that it had no jurisdiction and that the case was cognizable by the HLURB. RTC affirmed. CA reversed.


Whether or not MTC had jurisdiction?


Petitioner's complaint is for unlawful detainer. While generally speaking such action falls within the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the MTC, the determination of the ground for ejectment requires a consideration of the rights of a buyer on installment basis of real property. Indeed private respondent claims that he has a right under P.D. No. 957, §23 to stop paying monthly amortizations after giving due notice to the owner or developer of his decision to do so because of petitioner's alleged failure to develop the subdivision or condominium project according to the approved plans and within the time for complying with the same. The case thus involves a determination of the rights and obligations of parties in a sale of real estate under P.D. No. 957, Private respondent has in fact filed a complaint against petitioner for unsound real estate business practice with the HLURB.

This is, therefore, not a simple case for unlawful detainer arising from the failure of the lessee to pay the rents, comply with the conditions of a lease agreement or vacate the premises after the expiration of the lease. Since the determinative question is exclusively cognizable by the HLURB, the question of the right of petitioner must be determined by the agency.

As to the counterclaim, Pursuant to Rule 6, §8 a party may file a counterclaim only if the court has jurisdiction to entertain the claim. Otherwise the counterclaim cannot be filed.