A quitclaim deed conveys any rights to title that the grantor of the deed might have in the property to another party. It is not a deed that ultimately proves the legal ownership of property. In essence, a quitclaim deed says, “If I have any rights to title in the specified property, I give it to you.” For the grantee to claim ownership of the property, it would be necessary to verify the grantor of the deed had a legal interest.
Less than Fee Simple
Of all deeds, the quitclaim deed provides the least protection to the grantee. There are no warranties or covenants. If the grantor has no real interest in the property, then the grantee typically receives nothing. When conveying ownership to property where less than fee-simple estate is held, a quitclaim deed may be the only allowable deed. Under a fee-simple estate, the holder has absolute rights to the property, restricted by public or private limitations, such as zoning laws.
When buying property, the buyer obtains interest in the land after a sales contract is executed between the buyer and seller. The interest is referred to as equitable title. The rights obtained will vary according to state laws. If the buyer and seller decide to cancel the sale, the buyer may be asked to sign a quitclaim deed, relinquishing the buyer of any equitable title in the property.
Cloud on Title
Issuing a quitclaim deed can be done to cure a cloud (or defect) on the title. One example of this would be where the name of the legal owner has been misspelled on the warranty deed of public record. The grantee can issue a quitclaim deed with the correct spelling. If property has been inherited and the grantor is unsure about the validity of the decedent’s title, a quitclaim deed can be used by the grantor. By using the quitclaim deed, the grantor is conveying any interest to the property to the grantee.
Transferring title of property from one family member to another is a common use of the quitclaim deed. An example of this would be a parent assigning his or her ownership to a child or other family member. Sometimes a spouse or ex-spouse will be asked to grant a quitclaim deed for property he or she doesn’t own, yet is owned by a spouse or ex-spouse. In this circumstance, the quitclaim deed simply clarifies a spouse or ex-spouse’s non-ownership of the property.
- Modern Real Estate Practice; Galaty, Allaway and Kyle; 2006
- HG.org. "Contracts 101—Warranty vs Quitclaim Deeds." Accessed Aug. 12, 2020.
- Realtor.com. "When Do You Need to Get a Quitclaim Deed?' Accessed Aug. 12, 2020.
- DivorceNet. "Interspousal Transfers Versus Quit Claim Deeds." Accessed Aug. 12, 2020.
- California State Board of Equalization. "Property Ownership and Deed Recording," Page 7. Accessed Aug. 13, 2020.
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.