MELANIA A. ROXAS, petitioner, vs. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ANTONIO M. CAYETANO, respondents.
G.R. No. 92245, 26 June 1991.
Petitioner Melania Roxas ("Melania") is married to Antonio Roxas ("Antonio"), although they are already estranged and living separately.
Melania discovered that Antonio leased to Respondent Antonio Cayetano ("Mr. Cayetano") their conjugal lot in Novaliches without her knowledge and consent.
Thus, Melanie filed a case before the RTC praying for the annulment of the contract of lease between Antonio and Mr. Cayetano.
Mr. Cayetano moved to dismiss the complaint on the sole ground that the complaint states no cause of action.
The RTC Judge resolved said Motion by dismissing Melania's complaint.
ISSUE: W/N a husband, may legally enter into a long-term contract of lease involving conjugal real property without the consent of the wife.
Ruling: No. (Case remanded to the RTC by the SC)
Even if the husband is administrator of the conjugal partnership, administration does not include acts of ownership. For while the husband can administer the conjugal assets unhampered, he cannot alienate or encumber the conjugal realty.
As stated in Black's Law Dictionary, the word "alienation" means "the transfer of the property and possession of lands, tenements, or other things from one person to another ... The act by which the title to real estate is voluntarily assigned by one person to another and accepted by the latter, in the form prescribed by law." While encumbrance "has been defined to be every right to, or interest in, the land which may subsist in third persons, to the diminution of the value of the land, but consistent with the passing of the fee by the conveyance; any (act) that impairs the use or transfer of property or real estate..."
The pivotal issue in this case is whether or not a lease is an encumbrance and/or alienation.
Under Art. 1643 of the New Civil Code "In the lease of things, one of the parties binds himself to give to another the enjoyment or use of a thing for a price certain, and for a period which may be definite or indefinite...." Thus, lease is a grant of use and possession: it is not only a grant of possession.
In the contract of lease, the lessor transfers his right of use in favor of the lessee. The lessor's right of use is impaired, therein. He may even be ejected by the lessee if the lessor uses the leased realty.
Therefore, lease is a burden on the land, it is an encumbrance on the land. The concept of encumbrance includes lease, thus "an encumbrance is sometimes construed broadly to include not only liens such as mortgages and taxes, but also attachment, LEASES, inchoate dower rights, water rights, easements, and other RESTRICTIONS on USE."
Moreover, lease is not only an encumbrance but also a qualified alienation, with the lessee becoming, for all legal intents and purposes, and subject to its terms, the owner of the thing affected by the lease.
Thus, in case the wife's consent is not secured by the husband as required by law, the wife has the remedy of filing an action for the annulment of the contract.