The present controversy is a clear case of double sale, where the seller sold one property to different buyers, first to petitioner and later to respondent. In determining who has a better right, the guidelines set forth in Article 1544 of the Civil Code apply. Article 1544 states:
Art. 1544. If the same thing should have been sold to different vendees, the ownership shall be transferred to the person who may have first taken possession thereof in good faith, if it should be movable property.
Should it be immovable property, the ownership shall belong to the person acquiring it who in good faith first recorded it in the Registry of Property.
Should there be no inscription, the ownership shall pertain to the person who in good faith was first in possession; and, in the absence thereof, to the person who presents the oldest title, provided there is good faith.
Admittedly, the two sales were not registered with the Registry of Property. Since there was no inscription, the next question is who, between petitioner and respondent, first took possession of the subject property in good faith. As aptly held by the trial court, it was respondent who took possession of the subject property and, therefore, has a better right.
Petitioner insists that, upon the execution of the public instrument (the notarized deed of sale), she already acquired possession thereof, and thus, considering that the execution thereof took place ahead of the actual possession by respondent of the subject property, she has a better right.
We do not agree.
Indeed, the execution of a public instrument shall be equivalent to the delivery of the thing that is the object of the contract. However, the Court has held that the execution of a public instrument gives rise only to a prima facie presumption of delivery. It is deemed negated by the failure of the vendee to take actual possession of the land sold.
In this case, though the sale was evidenced by a notarized deed of sale, petitioner admitted that she refused to make full payment on the subject property and take actual possession thereof because of the presence of tenants on the subject property. Clearly, petitioner had not taken possession of the subject property or exercised acts of dominion over it despite her assertion that she was the lawful owner thereof.
Respondent, on the other hand, showed that she purchased the subject property without knowledge that it had been earlier sold by Flora to petitioner. She had reason to believe that there was no defect in her title since the owner’s duplicate copy of the OCT was delivered to her by the seller upon full payment of the purchase price. She then took possession of the subject property and exercised acts of ownership by collecting rentals from the tenants who were occupying it.
Hence, the RTC is correct in declaring that respondent has a better right to the subject property