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What is “Special” about a Special Warranty Deed?

By Howard C. Stross
November 14, 2022
Special Warranty Deed

Probably the two most widely used types of conveyances in Florida are the General Warranty Deed and the Special Warranty Deed. What is the difference between these two widely used types of conveyances in Florida? What do the two types of conveyances have in common? Glad you asked. Read on.

One thing a General Warranty Deed and a Special Warranty Deed have in common is that both are the most common and accepted methods of determining the “root of title” when examining the marketability of real estate. Regarding the Marketable Record Title Act found in Chapter 712 of the Florida Statutes (the “Act”), as a title examining tool, the first thing when examining for marketable title is to locate the “root of title.” “Title” in this article means “ownership” or an “interest” in the real estate. Section 712.01(6) of the Act defines “root of title” to mean any title transaction that creates or transfers the real estate claimed by any person and which is the last title transaction to have been recorded at least 30 years before marketability is being evaluated. Section 712.01(7) of the Act defines a “title transaction” to mean any recorded instrument or court proceeding that affects title to any real estate or interest in land and that describes the land sufficiently.

Another thing a General Warranty Deed and a Special Warranty Deed have in common is that both contain five covenants of title: (1) the Covenant of Seisin; (2) the Covenant of the Right to Convey; (3) the Covenant Against Encumbrances; (4) the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment; and (5) the Covenant of General Warranty.

What is the “special” element of a Special Warranty Deed?

In Florida, a Special Warranty Deed is a limiting manner of conveying ownership to real estate than a General Warranty Deed. Although a Special Warranty Deed contains the same five covenants of title as a General Warranty Deed, the application of those five covenants of title is limited to only the time period during which the grantor owned the property. Essentially, the Special Warranty Deed does not include a warranty against what might have occurred to the real estate’s title before the grantor acquired ownership. The grantor’s limitation stated in the deed (see below) precludes the grantor from being held accountable for any title problem that occurred before grantor acquired title.

The underscored language below is the limiting language embodied in a Special Warranty Deed.

“Grantor hereby covenants with Grantee that it is lawfully seized of the Property in fee simple; that it has good right and lawful authority to sell and convey the Property; that it fully warrants the title to the land and will defend the same against the lawful claims of all persons and parties claiming by, through or under Grantor, but against none other.”

Consensus on a Special Warranty Deed in Florida is that it is more commonly used in the transfer of title to commercial real estate than in a residential real estate transaction.

When considering transferring or dealing with the title or ownership of Florida real estate, consult with an attorney that regularly deals with real estate. Our initial courtesy discussion informs you of how we may help with your real estate objectives. To schedule an initial courtesy discussion, please contact us at (813) 852-6500.  

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The lawyers at the Stross Law Firm, P.A. invite you to call or e-mail to arrange a free 30-minute consultation regarding your legal and advisory needs concerning business law, real estate, estate planning, probate and trust administration. We serve clients throughout Florida. Find out how we work and how we may be able to help you.