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October 8, 2016

Soriano vs. Sternberg

Facts:
  • Oscar Sternberg owns a parcel of land with a two storey-house which was built in 1905.
  • The said house has windows overlooking the adjacent lot belonging to Soriano.
  • The windows were built on the wall of the house which   has a 1.36 m. distance from the dividing line between the two lots.
  • Thereafter, Soriano filed an action to compel Sternberg to close the windows because it is less than 2 meters from the division line between the two lots and hence, a violation of Article 582 (now Article 670) of the Civil Code.
  • The law provides that "No windows or balconies or other similar projections which directly overlook the adjoining property may be opened or built without leaving a distance of not less than 2 meters between the wall in which they are built and such adjoining property.
  • Stenberg argues that the action of Soriano has already prescribed.
  • It must be noted that there is no annotation in the Torrens title of the parties involved. (No easement of view in the title of Soriano and no right to easement on the title of Sternberg.)
  • Here, there is no question of easement. 




Issue: WON a right of action to enforce Article 582 of the Civil code may be lost by failure to prosecute  within the prescriptive period fixed by the Code of Civil Procedure. YES

Held: Yes.

In this case, Sternberg has never prohibited Soriano from building any wall on his own land. Soriano’s cause of action only arose in 1905 when Sternberg built the offending edifice (building). 

Nevertheless, the windows complained of were permitted to be open for thirteen years (1918) without protest from Soriano. Soriano must, consequently, by reason of his own laches, be considered to have waived any right which he may have had to compel the windows to be closed. 

It is our holding that plaintiff right of action under article 582 of the Civil Code accrued in 1905 when the windows in defendant's house were opened, and that, in accordance with Chapter III of the Code of Civil Procedure, his action has prescribed.

The argument of Soriano that it was only in 1917, when he bought the land in question, that the statute of limitations began to run, is not convincing, for the general rule is, that once the statute begins to run, it never stops, and the transfer of the cause of action does not have the effect of suspending its operation. 

Art. 670. No windows, apertures, balconies, or other similar projections which afford a direct view upon or towards an adjoining land or tenement can be made, without leaving a distance of two meters between the wall in which they are made and such contiguous property.  Neither can side or oblique views upon or towards such conterminous property be had, unless there be a distance of sixty centimeters. The nonobservance of these distances does not give rise to prescription.

Citation:
  • G.R. No. L-15628 
  • November 18, 1920
  • MANUEL SORIANO, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. OSCAR STERNBERG, Defendant-Appellant.

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