What Do the Words "Less and Except" Mean in a Warranty Deed?

by Ann Johnson ; Updated July 27, 2017

The term “less and except” clarifies a legal description when contained in a legal instrument, such as a warranty deed. It typically follows the legal description in the document before identifying a specific portion of the real property to exclude from the deed’s force. The warranty deed does not convey title to the portion of the property identified by the “less and except” clause.

Deed

A seller of real estate uses a deed to convey his interest or title to real property with a deed, which is a written document. The party issuing the deed is the seller or grantor, and the party receiving the deed is the grantee or buyer. The deed conveys the interest or title the grantor has in the property described in the deed. When a warranty deed contains a “less and express” clause, that clause in essence in a part of the description, in regards to what rights the deed conveys to the grantee.

Warranty Deed

There are a number of deed forms. The quitclaim deed does not expressly convey the title to property, it just conveys the interest the grantor has in the described property, which may or may not be the title. There are several different types of warranty deeds, including the general warranty deed and the special warranty deed. These types of deeds convey the title as opposed to just the grantor’s interest in the property, and give the grantee specific guarantees regarding the transfer of the title.

Legal Description

The property description for the portion referenced by the “less and except” clause must meet the same requirements for soundness as other acceptable legal descriptions. Sometimes the description is a reference to a previously recorded deed, deferring to that deed’s property description.

Purpose

The purpose of the “less and except” clause in a warranty deed is to exclude a portion of property included in the legal description contained in the deed from the legal action resulting from the warranty deed’s force.

Examples

Examples cited by K. F. Boackle, in his book “Real Estate Closing Deskbook,” for using an "less and except" clause might include an instance where the initial property description notes the property line at the center of the road, yet the deed does not intend to convey title to the road to the grantee. Another example noted was a conveyance of a land tract with a previously conveyed portion.

References

About the Author

Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real-estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University, Fullerton.