Lex Rex Ph

Cortes vs. Yu-Tibo Digest

My Title: My Windows Were Covered by My Neighbor

Facts

The house of the plaintiff Maximo in Calle Rosario, house No. 65, has certain windows therein, through which it receives light and air, said windows opening on the adjacent house, No. 63 of the same street. These windows have been in existence since the year 1843.

The defendant, the tenant of the said house No. 63, has commenced certain work with the view to raising the roof of the house in such a manner that one-half of one of the windows in said house No. 65 has been covered, thus depriving the building of a large part of the air and light formerly received through the window.

Maximo Cortes filed with RTC for the purpose of restraining the continuation of certain buildings commenced by the defendant.

RTC favored Yu-Tibo. Easement of light is negative.

Plaintiff Maximo appealed to SC.

Contentions:

Maximo contends that the easement of light is positive; that therefore the period of possession for the purposes of the acquisition of a prescriptive title is to begin from the date on which the enjoyment of the same commenced. Constant and uninterrupted use of the windows referred to above during a period of fifty-nine years he acquired by prescription an easement of light in favor of the house No. 65, and as a servitude upon house No. 63.

Defendant Yu-Tibo: Easement is negative. therefore the time for the prescriptive acquisition thereof must begin from the date on which the owner of the dominant estate may have prohibited, by a formal act, the servient estate from doing something which would be lawful but for the existence of the easement.

ElementsPositive EasementNegative Easement
Act of servient estate’s ownerMust allow the owner of dominant estate or the latter must do somethingMust refrain from doing something lawful
Commencement of acquisitive prescriptionDate of enjoyment of easementDate that owner of dominant estate prohibited the servient estate by formal act
Required issanceNANotarial prohibition
ExampleEasement of light on a party wall or wall of anotherEasement of light in one’s own wall (the servient estate cannot build at certain point)

Is the easement of light in this case negative or positive? Negative

When a person opens windows in his own building…it does not in itself establish any easement, because the property is used by its owner in the exercise of dominion, and, not as the exercise of an easement.

3 Kinds of Openings in an Easement of Light

Enjoyment of an easement of light may be made in 3 kinds of openings through which the light penetrates: (1) in one’s own wall, (2) in the wall of one’s neighbor, (3) or in a party wall. The legal doctrine applicable in either one of these case is different:

  • In one’s own wall- anyone may open anytime
  • In wall of another – must make holes with the consent of the owner
  • In a party wall – it is also necessary, in accordance with article 580 of the Civil Code, to obtain the consent of the other co-owner. Presciption on party wall – 10 yrs; at any time within 10 years, the owner on the other side may close it.

This case deals about the opening in one’s own wall. No consent required to build windows for it’s an exercise of dominion.

Therefore pertains to the class which can not be acquired by prescription as provided by article 638, that is, to forbid the owner of the servient estate, in a formal manner, to do an act which could be lawful were it not for the easement.

As a consequence, therefore, the plaintiff, not having executed any formal act of opposition to the right of the owner of house No. 63… he has not acquired such easement of light.

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