Nov 8, 2020 @ 21:51

Consult Atty Claire: Can relatives take over land by paying real property tax?

Dear Atty. Claire,

We have a farmland in Bulacan which we can’t manage because we’re staying in Manila. My father allowed one of our relatives to stay on the farm and plant crops to pay for the real property tax. We don’t demand our share from the sale of the crops.

It has been 10 years since we visited our farm. Someone is now telling us that our relatives might claim ownership of the land since they have been paying the real property tax for it for a decade. Our agreement for them to pay the tax was only done verbally.

Please help.

Mae V

Ms. Mae V,

It is very clear from your statements that they have been allowed to occupy the land, to enjoy and use it provided that they would pay for the real property tax. However, their payment of real property taxes does not give them the right to own the farm.

Even if you do not have any written agreement that specifically provides that your relatives should pay the real property tax for the farmland, you can still prove that they benefited from their stay on your property. They have been living on your farmland for free through the years. Logically, their only obligation is to pay for the real property tax in exchange for staying.

Mae V, you don’t need to worry about your relatives’ purported interest in your farmland since you remain its rightful owner. Unless a Deed of Assignment or Deed of Sale was issued in favor of your relatives, the property remains yours. However, for your peace of mind, it is better that you draft an undertaking or memorandum of agreement stating the terms and obligations of your relatives in exchange for occupying your farmland.

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