Florida Warranty Deed Form
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What is a Florida General Warranty Deed Form?
A Florida general warranty deed form—also called a warranty deed—is a type of deed that transfers Florida real estate with a complete warranty of title.1 A warranty deed guarantees that the transfering owner (the transferor or grantor) has good title to the real estate. The warranty is not limited to the period while the current owner owned the property. This means that the current owner who signs the warranty deed agrees to be legally responsible for title issues that arose before he or she acquired the property.2
What is a Warranty of Title?
A warranty of title is a legal guarantee that a transferor provides to the transferee when signing certain deeds. The guarantee is essentially that the property’s title has no problems—called title defects—that make the property less valuable or harder to sell. If a deed provides a warranty of title, the transferee can sue the transferor over title problems covered by the warranty.
Title problems can arise from a variety of factors, including:
- Errors in the public record;
- Unknown liens against the property;
- Undisclosed prior transfers;
- Fraudulent or defective deeds;
- Unidentified heirs or wills not admitted into probate; or
- Disputes about boundary lines or surveys.
Expensive legal action is sometimes needed to fix title problems. An unresolved title issue can even cause the purported owner to lose the property. A property that has no title issues is said to have clear title.
How Does Warranty of Title Work in Florida?
A Florida warranty deed transfers property with “full common-law covenants” even if the covenants are not spelled out in the deed.3 The common-law covenants are a series of six legal promises that make up the deed’s warranty of title.
- Covenant of seizin. The current owner who signs the deed actually owns the real estate interest that the warranty deed transfers to the new owner.
- Covenant of right to convey. The current owner who signs the deed has the legal power to transfer the real estate.
- Covenant of quiet enjoyment. The new owner’s right to possess the property will not be thwarted by a third-party claim.
- Covenant of warranty of title. The current owner who signs the deed will defend the property’s title against third-party claims and will compensate the new owner for any losses caused by a third-party claim.
- Covenant of further assurances. The current owner who signs the deed will do whatever is necessary to help straighten out any title issues that arise.
- Covenant against encumbrances. No undisclosed restrictions—such as liens or mortgages—would limit the new owner’s use and possession of the whole property.
The covenants in a warranty deed are not limited to when the transferor owned the property. The person signing the deed is responsible for all title issues—even if they were caused by a prior owner’s action or inaction.
How Warranty of Title Protects the New Owner
A Florida property owner who signs a warranty deed guarantees that he or she owns and has all rights to the property. If there is a problem with the property’s title, the new owner can sue the transferor for breach of warranty. An owner who brings a successful breach of warranty claim can recover for financial losses caused by a problem with the property’s title—often including legal fees incurred in defending against a third party’s claim against the property.
Other Names for a Florida General Warranty Deed Form
Florida warranty deeds are sometimes called general warranty deeds to distinguish them from special warranty deeds—which have a limited warranty of title. The terms general warranty deed and warranty deed are interchangeable.
The term statutory warranty deed is also occasionally used as another name for a Florida warranty deed. This is because Florida statutes define the scope of the warranty and provide suggested warranty language.4 The warranty language suggested by the statute is not mandatory. A valid Florida warranty deed can use different warranty language or modify the scope of the warranty—as long as it otherwise complies with Florida law.
How Do Florida General Warranty Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?
A Florida warranty deed form is the only form of Florida deed that comes with a full warranty of title that is not limited in time. A warranty deed is an alternative to other Florida deed forms that transfer real estate with a limited warranty or no warranty.
Florida Quitclaim Deed
A Florida quitclaim deed form transfers with no warranty whatever ownership interest (if any) the person who signs the deed holds in the property. The transferee receives whatever title the transferor can legally transfer. The transferee assumes all risk of title problems and cannot sue the transferor for breach of warranty if there is a problem with the property’s title or if the transferor does not actually own the property.
Deeds that transfer real estate for no consideration—or no payment in exchange for the deed—are often quitclaim deeds. For example, owners might use a quitclaim deed to divide Florida real estate in a divorce case.
Florida Special Warranty Deed
A Florida special warranty deed form transfers real estate with a limited warranty of title—sometimes called a special warranty. A special warranty deed guarantees a good title, but the guarantee covers only title issues that arose while the transferor owned the property. The current owner and new owner share the risk of title problems—depending on when a particular problem arose.
Example: Pasco transferred real estate to Collier by warranty deed. Duval owned the property before Pasco. After the transfer, Collier learned that Duval had tax liabilities that resulted in a federal tax lien against the property. Because Pasco conveyed the property to Collier by warranty deed, Collier may sue Pasco for breach of the warranty of title. This is the case even though the title problem was created by Duval, who owned the property before Pasco.
If Pasco transferred the real estate to collier by special warranty deed, Collier would have no breach of warranty claim against Pasco. This is because the special warranty deed’s warranty extends only to the time when Pasco owned the property. Similarly, Collier would have had no claim against Pasco if Pasco used a quitclaim deed, as quitclaim deeds provide no warranty.
Florida General Warranty Deeds and Other Florida Deed Forms
The term warranty deed describes the warranty of title the deed provides. Other types of deeds—like life estate deeds and lady bird deeds—are named after their probate avoidance features. The two naming schemes—one based on the nature of a deed’s warranty and the other based on its estate-planning functions—are independent. Thus, a single Florida deed may be both a warranty deed and a lady bird deed.
A Florida property owner can also avoid probate by creating a survivorship deed that transfers the real estate to the current owner and another person as joint tenants with right of survivorship. After recording a survivorship deed, they co-own the property. When the first co-owner dies, the surviving co-owner automatically receives the deceased owner’s interest in the property without probate.
Common Uses of Florida General Warranty Deed Forms
The traditional sale context—in which a buyer pays market value for Florida real estate—is the most common setting for a Florida warranty deed form. A transferor often uses a Florida warranty deed when:
- A buyer is purchasing residential property from a seller for full value;
- A buyer does not intend to purchase title insurance; or
- The transferor is comfortable with the legal risk of an unlimited warranty of title under the circumstances.
Florida warranty deeds can be used in non-sale settings—for example, to place property in a living trust or add a spouse to a property’s title. However, quitclaim deeds and special warranty deeds are typically used in those situations.
How to Create a Florida General Warranty Deed Form
A Florida deed must include specific language to ensure that the deed qualifies as a warranty deed. A warranty deed that transfers Florida real estate must also satisfy Florida’s deed recording requirements and any conditions for recording in the land records of the county where the property is located.5
Florida Warranty Deed Requirements
Florida law provides the following model language for use in Florida warranty deed forms:
This indenture, made this ___ day of _____ A.D. , between _______________, of the County of _______________ in the State of _______________, party of the first part, and _______________, of the County of _______________, in the State of _______________, party of the second part, witnesseth: That the said party of the first part, for and in consideration of the sum of _______________ dollars, to her or him in hand paid by the said party of the second part, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, has granted, bargained and sold to the said party of the second part, her or his heirs and assigns forever, the following described land, to wit:
And the said party of the first part does hereby fully warrant the title to said land, and will defend the same against the lawful claims of all persons whomsoever.6
The safest way to ensure a Florida deed qualifies as a warranty deed is to rely on the statutory language for general warranty deeds. However, the statutory language is only a starting point. In practice, the exact form of a Florida warranty deed varies according to the details of the transaction and does not typically track the statute’s language exactly.
Florida General Deed Requirements
A Florida deed with the right warranty language must also satisfy the formatting and content requirements and best practices that apply to all Florida deeds. For example, all Florida deeds must contain a valid legal description of the property, a statement of consideration, and (if there are multiple transferees) the co-ownership form the new co-owners will use.
A Florida warranty deed form must be in Florida’s required format. It must have adequate margins and leave spaces for the recorder’s stamp and for the property’s parcel identification number (which cannot serve as the legal description).7 The deed should also use the correct signature blocks for the transferor and each witness and use the notary-acknowledgment form approved by Florida law.8
Choosing a Florida Warranty Deed Form
A Florida warranty deed must use the correct wording and format for Florida. A deed that works well in another state may be invalid in Florida. Even slight differences in language can invalidate a deed, make it ineligible for recording, or alter its intended legal effects.
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