The Easement of Right of Way

What is an easement?

An easement or servitude is an encumbrance imposed upon an immovable for the benefit of another immovable belonging to a different owner.[1]

Case law provides that easement or servitude is a real right constituted on another's property, corporeal and immovable, by virtue of which the owner of the same has to abstain from doing or to allow somebody else to do something on his property for the benefit of another thing or person.[2]

Who are the parties in an easement?

The parties are the dominant estate and the servient estate.

The immovable in favor of which the easement is established is called the dominant estate; that which is subject thereto, the servient estate.[3]

What are the requisites which must be established before a person becomes entitled to demand the compulsory easement of right of way?

In Reyes v. Spouses Valentin[4], the Supreme Court (SC) gave the following requisites:

1. An immovable is surrounded by other immovables belonging to other persons, and is without adequate outlet to a public highway;

2. Payment of proper indemnity by the owner of the surrounded immovable;

3. The isolation of the immovable is not due to its owner’s acts; and

4. The proposed easement of right of way is established at the point least prejudicial to the servient estate, and insofar as consistent with this rule, where the distance of the dominant estate to a public highway may be the shortest.

Who has the burden of proof to show the existence of the above requisites?

The person who seeks for the easement of right of way has the burden to prove the existence of the requisites because the rights of the owner of the servient estate will be limited if the easement will be granted. An owner may not exercise some of his or her property rights for the benefit of the person who was granted the easement of right of way.[5]

What if there already exists a way to the public highway but is inconvenient, may one demand for the grant of the easement of right of way?

No. Case law provides that that the convenience of the dominant estate’s owner is not the basis for granting an easement of right of way, especially if the owner’s needs may be satisfied without imposing the easement.[6]

As long as there already exists an adequate outlet to the public road, the demand for a right of way over the property of another will not be granted, even if the existing outlet is longer and inconvenient, even if it causes great inconvenience due to flood and mud[7], and even if the passage is impassable during the rainy season[8].

[1] Article 613, Civil Code of the Philippines. [2] Spouses Mercader v. Spouses Bardilas, G.R. No. 163157, June 27, 2016. [3] Supra, note 1. [4] G.R. No. 194488, February 11, 2015. [5] Id. [6] Id. [7] See Ramos v. Gatchalian, G.R. No. 75905, 12 October 1987. [8] See Floro v. Llenado, G.R. No. 75723, 2 June 1995.

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