It is only where a person places permanent improvements upon land belonging to another in a good faith belief that he is the owner of the land, that he has any remedy at all. Where he has built such improvements in good faith, he has a somewhat limited right to go into court, and upon proof of such good faith ask the court to grant him equitable relief. Under such circumstances, a court of equity may grant relief in several ways. If the building can be removed without great injury to the building or to the land, the court may permit the improver to move the building. Where the building cannot well be removed the court or jury can find the market value of the land before and after the making of the improvement, and allow the improver to recover for the amount of this enhanced value, if any. The landowner will first be permitted to pay the enhanced value and keep the land, but if he is unable or unwilling to do so, then the improver may be permitted to pay the value of the land before the improvements were placed thereon, and thus become the owner of the land and the improvements.
Appellee erroneously constructed a building on a lot owned by appellant. Appellee subsequently demolished the building. Appellant instituted an action against appellee to recover damages therefore. A jury in the court below found that appellee had acted maliciously in demolishing the building because it did so without the consent or knowledge of appellant. Finally, the jury found that appellant was entitled to receive $ 300 in exemplary damages. The parties stipulated that the building had a value of $ 5,000 and that the building had enhanced the value of the lot by $ 5,000. The court below awarded appellant $ 600, which was the amount the jury found it would cost to restore the lot to the same condition it was in immediately before the construction commenced. On appeal, the court amended the lower court's judgment to permit appellant to recover the sums of $ 5,000 and $ 300 in addition to the $ 600 awarded by the court below.
Is an improver authorized to go upon the land of another, without his knowledge and consent, and demolish the improvements that he has through mistake placed thereon?
The court found that appellant was entitled to the value of the building because appellee committed waste when it demolished the building without the knowledge or consent of appellant. The lower court's judgment was affirmed as amended.