In Ohio, land ownership can be conveyed by a deed in several ways. The most common types of deeds used in Ohio to transfer property include a general warranty deed, a limited warranty deed (sometimes called a “special warranty deed”), a quitclaim deed, a survivorship deed, and a fiduciary deed.
General Warranty Deed
A general warranty deed is by far the most common type of deed used in Ohio. This deed conveys the property in “fee simple,” meaning that the buyer has full and irrevocable ownership of the land and any buildings on the land. With a general warranty deed, the seller or grantor makes certain covenants or promises to the buyer. These include:
- The seller has title to the property he is conveying (also known as the “covenant of seisin”);
- The seller has the right to convey the property, meaning there are no restrictions on the seller which would limit his ability to transfer title of the property to the buyer;
- The property is free from all encumbrances, such as a lien, mortgage, or restrictive covenant on the property (except those identified and permitted);
- The seller promises that the buyer’s possession will not be disturbed by a claim of superior title by a third party; and
- The seller will defend the buyer against any title claims from third parties and will compensate the buyer for any losses she might incur as a result of any third party claim; and
The Ohio Revised Code expressly provides a form for general warranty deeds, which contains all the covenants previously mentioned. Ohio courts have also held that as long as a conveyance of property substantially complies with the requirements in the Revised Code, a warranty deed will be given full force and effect, thus binding both the seller and buyer. While the Revised Code does include a statutory form to use, parties are free to alter the statutory form to fit particular circumstances.
Limited Warranty Deed
A limited warranty deed is similar to that of the general warranty deed but differs because the seller does not make all the covenants as listed previously. Under this deed, the only covenants the buyer receives are those that the property is free from all encumbrances placed on the property by the seller and that the seller will defend the buyer against any claims arising when the seller owned the property. This means that the seller did not give any interest or place an encumbrance on the property while he owned it. For example, if a lien or encumbrance was placed on the land before the seller took title to the property, the buyer would have no right of action against the seller.
Similar to a general warranty deed, the Ohio Revised Code creates a statutory form that may be used to create a limited warranty deed, although non-statutory forms may also be used. Under Ohio law, a limited warranty deed is created whenever the term “limited warranty covenants” is used in any deed or other document relating to real estate, whether the statutory forms or other forms are used.
A quitclaim deed conveys the seller’s interest in the property at the time of the transfer but does not contain any of the covenants or warranties contained in a general warranty or limited warranty deed. In essence, the seller conveys the property “as-is” to the buyer without guaranteeing there are no defects, such as liens or encumbrances. In fact, under a quitclaim deed the seller isn’t even guaranteeing that he has any legal interest in the property at all.
Similar to the previously mentioned deeds, the Ohio Revised Code contains a statutory form that the parties can use, or a non-statutory quitclaim deed can be drafted.
A survivorship deed is used to convey title to real estate to two or more people as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. When one of the joint tenants dies, the property is transferred by operation of law to the surviving tenant. A survivorship deed is frequently used by husbands and wives as the mean for spouses to jointly own property with survivorship rights. Courts in Ohio will recognize a survivorship deed as long as the language in the deed is sufficiently clear to indicate that an individual wishes to create a survivorship deed. A properly executed survivorship deed allows the property to avoid probate after the passing of a joint tenant.
A fiduciary deed is designed for property sales not made by the person owning the property but by a trustee, guardian, or executor of the seller. This type of deed is often needed when the person owning the property cannot sign a deed either because they are underage or are deceased.
Thus, this deed allows the fiduciary to step in the shoes of the individual who owns the parcel to transfer the property according to the wishes of the property’s owner. The fiduciary deed only warrants that the fiduciary is acting in his or her appointed capacity and authority.
Regardless of the type of deed you decide to use, Ohio law requires that all deeds include specific information. This information includes:
- The name and address of the buyer and seller;
- A legal description of the property;
- The amount paid for the property; and
- The deed must be signed and acknowledged by a notary.
After you have transferred property by any type of deed it is highly recommended to record the deed at the county recorder’s office in the county in which the property resides. Doing so will ensure that there is a chain of title traceable to your name in case there are future disputes about who owns the property.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice.