An improvement is a valuable addition made to property. It is more than mere replacement or repair and is intended to enhance the beauty, value and utility of the property. Buildings or houses are improvements, as are streets, sewers, sidewalks, utilities, etc.
An improvement becomes part of the land and the owner of the land will, in most cases, also be the owner of the improvements located upon the land. The standard form American Land Title Association policies define “land” as: “the land described or referred to in Schedule A and improvements affixed thereto which by law constitute real property.”
Like any other interest of right in land, improvements may also be severed from the land by a conveyance of the improvements. Unless the improvement or house which is being conveyed is to be removed from the property, such a conveyance will always be in conjunction with a lease for the use of the land that supports the improvements. The lease will typically be a 99 year lease and most likely will contain provisions renewing the lease.
After the ownership in the improvements has been severed from ownership of the land on which the improvements are located, the improvements may be freely conveyed without conveying an ownership interest in the land. The leasehold interest in the land will normally be assigned to the purchaser along with the subsequent conveyances of the improvements.