EJECTMENT: Real action but in personam, NOT in rem


Forcible entry and unlawful detainer actions are actions affecting possession of real property and hence are real actions. Venue is the place where the property subject of the action is situated. (Sec. 1, Rule 4 of the Rules of Court)

They are also actions in personam because the plaintiff seeks to enforce a personal obligation on the defendant to vacate the property subject of the action. restore physical possession thereof to the plaintiff, and pay actual damages by way of reasonable compensation for his use or occupation of the property.

In forcible entry or unlawful detainer cases, the only damage that can be recovered is the fair rental value or the reasonable compensation for the use and occupation of the leased property. The reason for this is that the only issue raised in ejectment cases is that of rightful possession; hence, the damages which could be recovered are those which the plaintiff could have sustained as a mere possessor, or those caused by the loss of the use and occupation of the property, and not the damages which he may have suffered but which have no direct relation to his loss of material possession. (G.R. No. 141962; January 25, 2006)

The judgment rendered in an action for unlawful detainer shall be conclusive with respect to the possession only and shall in no wise bind the title or affect the ownership of the land or building. Such judgment would not bar an action between the same parties respecting title to the land or building. Section 18, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court provides that when the defendant raises the defense of ownership in his pleadings and the question of possession cannot be resolved without deciding the issue of ownership, the issue of ownership shall be resolved only to determine the issue of possession. (G.R. No. 166714; February 9, 2007)
Unlawful detainer and forcible entry suits under Rule 70 of the Rules of Court are designed to summarily restore physical possession of a piece of land or building to one who has been illegally or forcibly deprived thereof, without prejudice to the settlement of the parties’ opposing claims of juridical possession in appropriate proceedings. (G.R. No. 163495; May 8, 2009)

The sole issue for resolution in an unlawful detainer case is physical or material possession of the property involved, independent of any claim of ownership by any of the parties. Where the issue of ownership is raised by any of the parties, the courts may pass upon the same in order to determine who has the right to possess the property. The adjudication is, however, merely provisional and would not bar or prejudice an action between the same parties involving title to the property. Since the issue of ownership was raised in the unlawful detainer case, its resolution boils down to which of the parties' respective evidence deserves more weight. (G.R. No. 196529; July 01, 2013)

The avowed objective of actions for forcible entry and unlawful detainer, which have purposely been made summary in nature, is to provide a peaceful, speedy and expeditious means of preventing an alleged illegal possessor of property from unjustly continuing his possession for a long time, thereby ensuring the maintenance of peace and order in the community; otherwise, the party illegally deprived of possession might feel the despair of long waiting and decide as a measure of self-protection to take the law into his hands and seize the same by force and violence. And since the law discourages continued wrangling over possession of property for it involves perturbation of social order which must be restored as promptly as possible, technicalities or details of procedure which may cause unnecessary delays should accordingly and carefully be avoided. (G.R. No. 160280; March 13, 2009)

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