What is an Ohio General Warranty Deed Form?
An Ohio property owner transfers real estate by signing and recording a written deed.1 An Ohio general warranty deed is a deed form under which the real estate’s current owner—the grantor—transfers real estate to a new owner—the grantee—with complete warranty of title.2
Warranty of title is a guaranty that the current owner owns the property free of any undisclosed title defects.3 Potential title defects could include outstanding liens, mortgages, an ambiguous chain of title, or an adverse claim against the property by a third party.4
The warranty of title that comes with an Ohio general warranty deed consists of four covenants of warranty. The current owner promises that:
- The owner holds complete title to the real estate;
- The real estate’s title is free of undisclosed liens or other title defects;
- The current owner has the right to transfer the real estate to the new owner; and,
- The current owner warrants the property’s title and will defend the new owner’s interest against any lawful claims against the property.5
Ohio’s general rule is that deeds do not include any covenants not expressly written in the deed.6 However—if an Ohio deed includes the words general warranty covenants—Ohio law assumes that the current owner signing the deed provides complete warranty of title and the four statutory covenants of warranty inherent therein.7
Other Names for an Ohio General Warranty Deed Form
The Ohio Revised Code and Ohio courts call deeds offering complete warranty of title general warranty deeds.8 Some states use the abbreviated term warranty deed for the same concept, and Ohio courts sometimes use the shorter name, as well.9 General warranty deed is a more precise term in Ohio, as Ohio also recognizes limited warranty deeds—which transfer real estate with less comprehensive warranty of title.10
The term statutory warranty deed is sometimes used interchangeably with general warranty deed, though the two terms have a distinction in Ohio. A statutory warranty deed is a deed that provides warranty of title based on statutory form language. Statutory warranty deeds typically incorporate provisions specified in the authorizing statute even if the deed does not expressly include those terms.
An Ohio general warranty deed can—but does not have to—be a statutory warranty deed. Ohio’s statutory general warranty deed form is optional, and a drafter can create a valid general warranty deed without the statutory form language.11
How do Ohio General Warranty Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?
General warranty deeds are the Ohio deed form with the most comprehensive warranty of title. Two other Ohio statutory deed forms—limited warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds—provide lesser and no warranty of title, respectively.
Ohio General Warranty Deed Form vs. Ohio Limited Warranty Deed Form
An Ohio limited warranty deed form conveys Ohio real estate with a less thorough warranty than a general warranty deed.12 Where a general warranty deed places the risk of title defects on the current owner, a limited warranty deed divides the risk between the current and new owners. Some states call limited warranty deeds special warranty deeds, grant deeds, or covenant deeds.
A property owner who issues a general warranty deed guarantees the property’s entire chain of title is clear and promises to defend the title against third-party claims—regardless of when a claim arose. An Ohio limited warranty deed’s warranty only extends to claims and defects arising while the current owner owned the property.13 If a defect is based on an event that occurred before the current owner took title, the warranty does not cover the defect.
An Ohio general warranty deed’s vesting language typically says the current owner grants with general warranty covenants the real estate to the new owner.14 By comparison, the current owner issuing an Ohio limited warranty deed grants with limited warranty covenants the real estate to the new owner.15
Ohio General Warranty Deed Form vs. Ohio Quitclaim Deed
A property owner who signs an Ohio quitclaim deed form conveys real estate to the new owner “without covenants of any kind.”16 In other words, the current owner makes no representations as to whether the real estate’s title is or is not subject to title defects—placing all risk on the new owner. A property owner signing a quitclaim deed does not even promise that the signer actually holds title at all.
A common use of quitclaim deeds is for a person with a partial or potential interest in real estate to release the interest by conveying whatever claim they have on the property to another owner. For that reason, quitclaim deeds are sometimes called release deeds.
Ohio Warranty Deed Form vs. Other Types of Ohio Deeds
In addition to the deed types mentioned above, the Ohio Revised Code provides other statutory deed forms that are specific to Ohio.
An Ohio survivorship deed form transfers real estate to two or more owners and creates a survivorship tenancy in the new owners.17 When an owner dies, that owner’s interest automatically transfers to the surviving owner—never becoming part of the deceased owner’s probate estate. An Ohio survivorship tenancy is comparable to a joint tenancy with right of survivorship in other states. A survivorship deed can convey real estate with general or limited warranty of title—or with no warranty—depending on an individual deed’s wording.
Ohio’s other statutory deed form bears the unwieldy name deed of executor, administrator, trustee, guardian, receiver, or commissioner.18 This deed form—more simply called a fiduciary’s deed—is signed by a fiduciary acting in a representative capacity. An executor—for example—could use a fiduciary’s deed to transfer property from a deceased person’s estate. Ohio fiduciary’s deeds do not provide warranty of title. Instead, they offer fiduciary covenants as to the signer’s authority and power to transfer the property and compliance with statutes relevant to the appointment and transfer.
Common Uses of Ohio General Warranty Deed Forms
The most common use of Ohio general warranty deeds is to transfer complete title to real estate from the current owner to a new owner in furtherance of an arms-length sale. General warranty deeds are the preferred instrument for residential home purchases financed by third-party lenders. Homebuyers and mortgage lenders need to avoid the risk of acquiring an unclear title—which can reduce a property’s marketability, undermine its value as collateral, and lead to costly litigation.
An Ohio general warranty deed places the risk of title defects on the seller—who is in a better position to be aware of potential issues with a property’s title. If a title defect emerges, the purchaser has legal recourse in the form of a suit for breach of warranty against the seller. A seller who warrants a transferred property’s title must make the buyer whole for any financial loss that results from a future third-party claim against the real estate.
General warranty deeds are uncommon in transactions involving little or no consideration exchanged for transferred real estate. A family member receiving real estate through gift or inheritance—or a former spouse acquiring the other ex-spouse’s part-interest in connection with divorce proceedings—has less need for warranty of title. Quitclaim deeds are more common in those scenarios.
In practice, transactions involving general warranty deeds ordinarily involve a title insurance policy. Title insurance protects against damages resulting from defects in an insured property’s title.19 In exchange for a premium payment, a title insurer assumes the risk of title defects—indemnifying the seller, buyer, lender, or another interested party. A title insurance company also arranges a thorough title examination before issuing a policy—substantially increasing the likelihood that unknown defects are identified before closing.
How to Create an Ohio General Warranty Deed
The Ohio Revised Code provides within O.R.C. § 5302.05 the following statutory deed form for general warranty deeds.
GENERAL WARRANTY DEED
___________ (marital status), of ___________ County, ______________ for valuable consideration paid, grant(s), with general warranty covenants, to _____________, whose tax-mailing address is __________________, the following real property:
(description of land or interest therein and encumbrances, reservations, and exceptions, if any)
Prior Instrument Reference: Volume _____, Page _____
_______________, wife (husband) of the grantor, releases all rights of dower therein.
Executed this _______________ day of ________________
(Signature of Grantor)
A deed using the statutory form language is considered a general warranty deed.20 When the critical phrase “with general warranty covenants” is included in a deed, Ohio law assumes the current owner provides covenants of warranty. The statutory form is not mandatory, and a drafter can create a valid Ohio general warranty deed by including covenants of warranty expressly within a deed.21
An Ohio general warranty deed transfers the current owner’s entire interest in the real estate unless the deed specifies a lesser interest.22 The parties to an Ohio deed can also agree to modify the warranty, exclude disclosed items from the warranty’s scope, or add other covenants by expressly including the agreed terms within the deed.23
While Ohio’s general warranty deed form is a useful tool, the form language—by itself—does not create a valid and recordable Ohio deed.24 Ohio has numerous additional requirements relating to formatting, content, and execution of deeds.25 An Ohio general warranty deed must be carefully tailored to Ohio law and accurately reflect the parties’ desired terms. A carelessly prepared deed can result in unintended or omitted warranties, an invalid conveyance, or future problems with a property’s title.
- O.R.C. § 1335.04.
- O.R.C. § 5302.05.
- See Morgan v. Reese, 134 N.E.2d 581 (Ohio App., 1954).
- See O.R.C. § 3953.01(A).
- O.R.C. § 5302.06.
- O.R.C. § 5302.03.
- O.R.C. § 5302.06.
- See O.R.C. § 5302.05; Findley v. Davis, 136 N.E.2d 767 (Ohio App. 1955).
- See, e.g., AK ST § 34.15.030. See also Morgan v. Reese, 134 N.E.2d 581 (Ohio App. 1954).
- O.R.C. § 5302.07.
- O.R.C. § 5302.01.
- O.R.C. § 5302.07.
- O.R.C. § 5302.07.
- See O.R.C. § 5302.03; O.R.C. § 5302.05; O.R.C. § 5302.05.
- O.R.C. § 5302.08.
- O.R.C. § 5302.11.
- O.R.C. § 5302.17.
- O.R.C. § 5302.09.
- O.R.C. § 3953.01(A).
- O.R.C. § 5302.06.
- O.R.C. § 5302.01.
- O.R.C. § 5301.02.
- O.R.C. § 5302.03; O.R.C. § 5302.04.
- O.R.C. § 5301.05 (deed using form language has the force of a general warranty deed “when duly executed in accordance with Chapter 5301”).
- See, e.g., O.R.C. § 317.114; O.R.C. § 319.20; O.R.C. § 317.111.