What is a Quit Claim Deed?

Quit claim deeds are commonly utilized to transfer the interest of a property. Here are some details on what is a quit claim deed and how they work.


A deed is a document that transfers ownership of property from one person to another. Each deed should contain details about the old owners of the property and the new owners. A legal description of the property should be listed on the deed. In some states, both parties have to sign the deed and in others, only the person transferring property is required to sign.

There are several types of deeds, one of them is a quitclaim deed. With a quitclaim deed, the person transferring the property is basically relinquishing whatever interest they may have in the property to the person receiving the property. The quitclaim deed doesn’t provide full protection for the deed recipient, however, because the deed grantor may not have all rights to the property.

Any titleholder with interest in the property who is not listed on the quitclaim deed still keeps whatever ownership they have in the property. If the original grantor has no rights to the property to give away, the deed recipient has no recourse because the grantor never stated they owned the property free and clear.

When Quitclaim Deeds Are Used

Quitclaim deeds are used in certain situations where a person wants to give up their interest or claim on a property. For example, in a divorce, one ex-spouse may transfer their property ownership to another. The quitclaim deed doesn’t have an impact on a jointly held mortgage, though. Reassigning the mortgage is a separate process that can only be done if the mortgage lender agrees. Otherwise, the spouse who wants to keep the mortgage would have to refinance the mortgage by taking out a new refinance loan.

A title search may reveal a “cloud” on the title. The cloudis an outstanding claim to the property that may come from an old mortgage or deed where the interests weren’t transferred. To get title insurance on a property, the title needs to be clear. The person or company causing the cloud can use a quitclaim deed to relinquish their claims to the property. A cloud can happen when a deed isn’t signed correctly or a creditor fails to release their claim after a debt has been paid.

Other Types of Deeds

As long as the title is clear, a quitclaim deed is sufficient for transferring property rights. However, if there are any unresolved issues a quitclaim deed doesn’t provide protection for the recipient. If a quitclaim deed isn’t enough, a warranty deed or grant deed may be better options.

A warranty deed provides the most protection and guarantee. With a warranty deed the transferor makes a guarantee that the title is free and clear of all liens and claims of ownership and that they have the legal right to own the property. The warranty deeds guarantees the buyer that they will be compensated if anything is wrong with the transaction. A general warranty deed makes these guarantees dating back to the origin of the property and the transferor can be held liable for title issues prior to his or her ownership of the property.

A grant deed (or special warranty deed) also transfers ownership of the property, but the transferor only makes two promises concerning the property: that the grantor hasn’t sold the property to anyone else and that there are no undisclosed liens on the property. The transferee has less protection with this type of deed because the grantor has not made promises regarding title claims prior to their own ownership of the property.

Depending on state law, deeds may not have to be recorded with the courthouse to be accurate. However, it’s probably in the recipient’s best interest to have the deed recorded to protect them against future title claims.

If you’re purchasing a home with a grant deed or quitclaim deed, you may negotiate a lower purchase price based on the lower protection provided by the deed.