The Remedy of Quieting of Title

What is the remedy of quieting of title? An action for quieting of title is essentially a common law remedy grounded on equity. The competent court is tasked to determine the respective rights of the complainant and other claimants, not only to place things in their proper place, to make the one who has no rights to said immovable respect and not disturb the other, but also for the benefit of both, so that he who has the right would see every cloud of doubt over the property dissipated, and he could afterwards without fear introduce the improvements he may desire, to use, and even to abuse the property as he deems best[1]. What law and rule govern quieting of title? Quieting of title is governed by Articles 476 to 481 of the Civil Code, and this remedy is a special civil action under Rule 63 of the Rules of Court. Which court has jurisdiction over an action for quieting of title? The case of Salvador v. Patricia[2], Inc. is informative with respect to the subject of jurisdiction, to wit: To determine which court has jurisdiction over the actions identified in the second paragraph of Section 1, Rule 63 of the Rules of Court, said provision must be read together with those of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, as amended. It is important to note that Section 1, Rule 63 of the Rules of Court does not categorically require that an action to quiet title be filed before the RTC. It repeatedly uses the word "may"- that an action for quieting of title "may be brought under [the] Rule" on petitions for declaratory relief, and a person desiring to file a petition for declaratory relief "may x x x bring an action in the appropriate Regional Trial Court." The use of the word "may" in a statute denotes that the provision is merely permissive and indicates a mere possibility, an opportunity or an option. In contrast, the mandatory provision of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, as amended, uses the word shall and explicitly requires the MTC to exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all civil actions which involve title to or possession of real property where the assessed value does not exceed P20,000.00, thus: What requisites must concur in order for an action to quiet title to prosper? The following 2 requisites must concur: (1) the plaintiff or complainant has a legal or an equitable title to or interest in the real property subject of the action; and (2) the deed, claim, encumbrance or proceeding claimed to be casting cloud on his title must be shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite its prima facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy[3]. With regard to the first requisite, what does legal and equitable title mean? Legal title denotes registered ownership, while equitable title means beneficial ownership, meaning a title derived through a valid contract or relation, and based on recognized equitable principles; the right in the party, to whom it belongs, to have the legal title transferred to him[4]. As regards the second requisite, what does a cloud on a title mean? A cloud on a title exists when (1) there is an instrument (deed, or contract) or record or claim or encumbrance or proceeding; (2) which is apparently valid or effective; (3) but is, in truth and in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable or extinguished (or terminated) or barred by extinctive prescription; and (4) and may be prejudicial to the title[5]. [1] Mananquil v. Moico, G.R. No. 180076, November 21, 2012. [2] G.R. No. 195834, November 09, 2016. [3] Heirs of Tappa v. Heirs of Bacud, G.R. No. 187633, April 4, 2016. [4] Salvador v. Patricia, Inc., supra. [5] Ocampo v. Ocampo, G.R. No. 227894, July 05, 2017.

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