Continuous, apparent easement

A water facility constructed on a lot in a subdivision, through which the residents of the subdivision obtain water for 30 years, constitutes a continuous and apparent easement, and a compliance with the requisite for an open space in the subdivision. Hence, the said lot cannot be sold. (Liwag vs. Happy Glen Hope Homeowners Association, Inc. G.R. No. 189755. 690 Phil. 321. July 4, 2012)

Easements or servitudes are encumbrances imposed upon an immovable for the benefit of another immovable belonging to a different owner, for the benefit of a community, or for the benefit of one or more persons to whom the encumbered estate does not belong.

The law provides that easements may be continuous or discontinuous and apparent or non-apparent. The pertinent provisions of the Civil Code are quoted below:
Art. 615. Easements may be continuous or discontinuous, apparent or non-apparent. 
Continuous easements are those the use of which is or may be incessant, without the intervention of any act of man. 
Discontinuous easements are those which are used at intervals and depend upon the acts of man. 
Apparent easements are those which are made known and are continually kept in view by external signs that reveal the use and enjoyment of the same. 
Non-apparent easements are those which show no external indication of their existence.
In G.R. No. 189755, the water facility is an encumbrance on Lot 11, Block 5 of the Subdivision for the benefit of the community. It is continuous and apparent, because it is used incessantly without human intervention, and because it is continually kept in view by the overhead water tank, which reveals its use to the public.

Contrary to petitioner Emeteria Liwag’s contention that the existence of the water tank on Lot 11, Block 5 is merely tolerated, the Supreme Court found that the easement of water facility was voluntarily established either by Marcelo, the Subdivision owner and developer; or by F.G.R. Sales, his predecessor-in-interest and the original developer of the Subdivision. For more than 30 years, the facility was continuously used as the residents’ sole source of water. The Civil Code provides that continuous and apparent easements are acquired either by virtue of a title or by prescription of 10 years. It is therefore clear that an easement of water facility has already been acquired through prescription.

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