A special warranty deed requires special language to ensure that the deed qualifies as a special warranty deed. This language is automatically included by our deed preparation service and valid in all Virginia counties.
A Virginia special warranty deed form transfers Virginia real estate from the current owner (grantor) to the new owner (grantee) with a warranty of title that is limited to the time that the grantor owned the property. If a title issue arises that relates to the period of the grantor’s ownership, the grantee may sue the grantor for breaching the warranty of title. If the title issue relates to the time before the grantor owned the property, the grantor is not responsible.
Virginia special warranty deeds are authorized by Va. Code Ann. § 55-69, which provides:
A covenant by any such grantor “that he will warrant specially the property hereby conveyed” shall have the same effect as if the grantor has covenanted that he, his heirs and personal representatives will forever warrant and defend such property unto the grantee, his heirs, personal representatives and assigns, against the claims and demands of the grantor, and all persons claiming or to claim by, through or under him.
The last phrase (“claiming or to claim by, through or under him”) limits the grantor’s warranty to the period when the grantor owned the property.
In Virginia, a deed that transfers property with a limited warranty of title is called a special warranty deed form. Other states use different terms. In California, the same type of deed is called a grant deed. In Michigan, it is called a covenant deed. And other states use limited warranty deed or different terms. These names all refer to a deed that limits the grantor’s liability to the period when the grantor owned the property.
The term special warranty deed form relates exclusively to the warranty of title. The defining feature of a special warranty deed is a warranty of title that limits the grantor’s liability to the period when the grantor owned the property. This feature distinguishes a special warranty deed from two other Virginia deed forms with different warranties of title:
A special warranty deed also differs from two other Virginia deed forms that are named after their probate avoidance features:
A Virginia life estate deed form can be drafted to include or exclude a warranty of title. If the life estate deed includes a limited warranty of title, the same deed may be both a life estate deed and a special warranty deed.
In Virginia, special warranty deed forms are often used in:
In most of these settings—especially if money is changing hands—the warranty provided by a special warranty deed is usually supplemented by a title insurance policy. Title insurance policies shift the risk from the grantor to a third-party title insurance company. If title issues arise, the parties can file a claim against the title insurance company instead of relying solely on the grantor to resolve the issue.
All Virginia deed forms must meet the requirements of Virginia law, which differ from the legal requirements of other states. These requirements include a valid legal description, statement of consideration, and a description of the manner in which co-owners will hold title, font size and page format requirements, and signature and notarization requirements.
A Virginia special warranty deed form must also include the correct vesting and warranty language to identify the deed as a special warranty deed. Small differences—even a single word—can result in a different type of deed than the one intended. The deeds prepared by our online deed preparation service were attorney-designed to meet the requirements of Virginia law and to be eligible for recording in all Virginia counties.