Betterment Act Law and Legal Definition

The Betterment Act (“Act”) is a state legislation providing the qualifications of the occupant who is entitled to its benefits. It is a statute requiring a landowner to compensate an occupant who improves the land under a mistaken belief that the occupant is the real owner. The Act provides for fixing the value of the improvements and taxes which it grants to such occupant. The Act also provides that the amount of the mesne profits is recoverable by the owner. In McDonald v. Rankin, 92 Ark. 173 (Ark. 1909), it was held that where a party improved lands in good faith, and under the belief that he was the true owner, he is entitled to the benefits of the Act, and that such notice as might be gained from the registry of the deed is not sufficient to preclude him from those benefits.

The Act states that when the occupant holds in good faith under color of title, the owner can recover the land and mesne profits for three years, and the occupant can recover the value of his improvements and amount of taxes. These are the rights of the parties that are fixed by this Act. The Act says that the owner will be allowed to the rents of the lands that will have accrued within three years next before the commencement of the suit. It deprives the true owner of all the mesne profits that accrued prior to that time, but it gives to him the rents on the lands in the exact condition in which they are for the period subsequent to three years next before the commencement of the suit.[A.C.A. § 18-60-213].