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In July 2010, Thamerlane Perez purchased a parcel of lot in Sampaloc, Manila from LNC Asset Management. In April 2010, Perez sent a demand letter to Dominador Rasaceña et al. for them to vacate the property. Dominador et al. ignored the demand letter. Perez then sued them in the barangay but no settlement was reached. In August 2010, Perez filed an unlawful detainer case against Dominador et al.
In his complaint, Perez averred that Dominador et al. were merely allowed (tolerated) by the previous owner to stay in the subject property.
The trial court as well as the RTC ruled in favor of Perez but the CA reversed the lower courts on the ground that Perez was not able to prove that the previous owners merely tolerated the stay of Dominador et al. in the subject property.
ISSUE: Whether or not the CA is correct.
An unlawful detainer case has the following requisites:
(a) Initially, the possession of the property by the defendant was by contract with or by tolerance of the plaintiff;
(b) Eventually, such possession became illegal upon notice by the plaintiff to the defendant about the termination of the latter’s right of possession;
(c) Thereafter, the defendant remained in possession of the property and deprived the plaintiff of its enjoyment; and
(d) Within one year from the making of the last demand to vacate the property on the defendant, the plaintiff instituted the complaint for ejectment.
A requisite for a valid cause of action of unlawful detainer is that the possession was originally lawful, but turned unlawful only upon the expiration of the right to possess. To show that the possession was initially lawful, the basis of such lawful possession must then be established. Acts of tolerance must be proved showing the overt acts indicative of his or his predecessor’s tolerance or permission for him to occupy the disputed property.
In this case, it appears that Dominador et al. were lessees of one of the previous owners, a certain Agus. Agus sold the lot to Metrobank which later sold the property to LNC which later sold the property to Perez. It would also appear that in 2002, Metrobank already sent a demand letter to Dominador et al. for them to vacate the subject property but nothing else was done.
It would appear that Metrobank permitted or tolerated Dominador et al.’s possession of the property even before LNC acquired the property and eventually sold the same to Perez. It can be surmised that LNC maintained the status quo. Otherwise, Perez would not have found Dominador et al. on the premises. Hence, Perez was able to establish that Dominador et al.’s possession was by tolerance of his predecessors. As such, they are necessarily bound by an implied promise that they will vacate upon demand, failing which a summary action for ejectment is the proper remedy against them.
What is the concept of possession by mere tolerance?
In allowing several years to pass without requiring the occupant to vacate the premises nor filing action to eject him, plaintiffs have acquiesced to defendant’s possession and use of the premises. It has been held that a person who occupies the land of another at the latter’s tolerance or permission, without any contract between them, is necessarily bound by an implied promise that he will vacate upon demand, failing which a summary action for ejectment is the proper remedy against them.
There is no legal obstacle for the owner to allow a defaulting tenant to remain in the rented property one month, one year, several years, or even decades. That consent, no matter how long it may last, makes lawful tenant’s possession. Only when that consent is withdrawn and the owner demands tenant to leave the property is the owner’s right of possession asserted and the tenant’s refusal or failure to move out makes his possession unlawful, because it is violative of the owner’s preferential right of possession.