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In a quiet title action, does an owner claiming under a special warranty deed have to prove the grantor of that deed had title?

Palmetto Bay, FL |

In this case, one of the defendants in our quiet title action has a special warranty deed, which is akin to a quitclaim deed, because the grantor does not warranty title against any encumbrance that took place before the grantor obtained title. At least, that's my understanding of what a special warranty deed warrants. So who has the burden of proving in a quiet title action that this defendant's GRANTOR had title?

Everybody missed the point on this. Who has the burden of proof? Can the defendant simply rely on his special warranty deed or does he have any burden of proving the grantor's title?

Attorney Answers 4


The way the question appears phrased is slightly awkward under the context of who has a burden of proof. If there is a defect in title then a lawyer examining title should be able to establish when the defect arose. This determination could then address liability of a seller under a deed.

However, To explain a special warranty deed I believe it is necessary to look at what is a general warranty deed. A general warranty deed conveys title to a buyer along with certain warranties of title from the seller. If it turns out that the seller sold the home and never really owned the home due to a title defect in the chain of title before Seller took title, then the buyer can sue the seller for breach of warranty given to the buyer under the deed.

The difference with a special warranty deeds is that the warranty in the special warranty deed only applies to items that occurred while the seller himself owned the property. Here again, if the seller never really owned the property, the buyer could sue the seller for failing to convey title to the buyer.
But if the problem on the title to the property is due to something that occurred prior to the seller’s ownership of the home, then the seller would not be responsible.

So if there is in your case a problem in title from a seller from whom title was derived from a special warranty deed, and the defect is due to a problem arising before the seller took title himself, the seller will not be responsible as he did not warrant title before his ownership.

You should seek an opinion of a local real estate attorney.

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Both deeds convey title. The only difference is a limited warranty vs. no warranty. A title examination will reveal the status of title or any defects. If there was title insurance purchased after the defect, a claim may be made.

Actively practicing law in Texas. Inactive licenses in Arizona and Georgia. All answers are general in nature and no attorney/client relationship exists in this forum.

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The purpose of a quiet title action is to determine the owner of a piece of land. The action would not have been filed unless there were competing parties with claim to the ownership of the land. The type of deed a claimant received will not increase or diminish that person's interest in the title . Quit claim deeds, warranty deeds, and special warranty deeds all convey whatever title the grantor owns. The order of recording of competing deeds, notice received by competing owners, technical compliance with the law, and capacity of the grantor may all be important factors in a quiet title action. You should discuss your concerns with the lawyer representing you in the quiet title action.

Disclaimer: This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Actual legal advice can only be provided after completing a comprehensive consultation in which all of the relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.

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Ordinarily, the plaintiff in a quiet title action has the burden of proving his case based on the strength of his title and not the weakness of his adversaries' title. The grantor under a SWD is warranting title, just through the grantor and those claiming by or under him, not in general.

This is for information purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice.

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