Depra vs. Dumlao (G.R. No. L-57348, 16 May 1985)


Francisco Depra, is the owner of a parcel of land registered, situated in the municipality of Dumangas, Iloilo. Agustin Dumlao owns an adjoining lot. When Dumlao constructed his house on where the kitchen thereof had encroached on an area of 34 square meters of Depra’s property.

After the encroachment was discovered in a relocation survey of Depra’s lot, his mother, Beatriz wrote a demand letter asking Dumlao to move back from his encroachment and filed an action for Unlawful Detainer. Said complaint was later amended to include Depra as a party plaintiff.

After trial, the Municipal Court found that Dumlao was a builder in good faith, and applying Article 448 of the Civil Code. Depra did not accept payment of rentals so that Dumlao deposited such rentals with the Municipal Court. In this case, the Municipal Court, acted without jurisdiction, its Decision was null and void and cannot operate as res judicata to the subject complaint for Queting of Title. The court conceded in the MCs decision that Dumlao is a builder in good faith.


The judgment in a detainer case is effective in respect of possession only (Sec. 7, Rule 70, Rules of Court). The Municipal Court overstepped its bounds when it imposed upon the parties a situation of “forced lease”, which like “forced co-ownership” is not favored in law. Furthermore, a lease is an interest in real property, jurisdiction over which belongs to CFI (now RTC) (Sec. 44(b), Judiciary Act of 1948; 2 Sec. 19 (2) BP 129). Since the Municipal Court, acted without jurisdiction, its Decision was null and void and cannot operate as res judicata to the subject complaint for Queting of Title.

Even if the Decision of the Municipal Court were valid, the rule on res judicata would not apply due to difference in cause of action. In the Municipal Court, the cause of action was the deprivation of possession, while in the action to quiet title, the cause of action was based on ownership. Furthermore, Sec. 7, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court explicitly provides that judgment in a detainer case “shall not bar an action between the same parties respecting title to the land.”

The owner of the land on which improvement was built by another in good faith is entitled to removal of improvement only after landowner has opted to sell the land and the builder refused to pay for the same. Res judicata doesn’t apply wherein the first case was for ejectment and the other was for quieting of title.

ART. 448. The owner of the land on which anything has been built sown or planted in good faith, shall have the right to appropriate as his own the works, sowing or planting, after payment of the indemnity provided for in articles 546 and 548, or to oblige the one who built or planted to pay the price of the land, and the one who sowed, the proper rent.

However, the builder or planter cannot be obliged to buy the land if its value is considerably more than that of the building or trees. In such case, he shall pay reasonable rent, if the owner of the land does not choose to appropriate the building or trees after proper indemnity. The parties shall agree upon the terms of the lease and in case of disagreement, the court shall fix the terms thereof.

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