A quitclaim deed in Florida is a legal form that transfers property to someone else. The person receiving the property is called a grantee. A quitclaim deed allows the current property owner to transfer whatever title they have to the grantee. A quitclaim deed is a fully legal way to transfer property to an individual or company.
The quality of title that the grantee receives depends upon the title in the hands of the grantor. If the grantor has good and marketable legal title to a property, free and clear of all liens and encumbrances, then the Florida quitclaim deed will transfer good and marketable title to the grantee. However, if the grantor owns a property having defects in the chain of title or liens on the property, then the quitclaim deed conveys the same title problems to the grantee.
The general rule of thumb for quitclaim deeds is that you cannot transfer more than you have. In other words, if one attempts to transfer full legal title to a piece of property when they do not actually have clear and marketable legal title, then the deed will not convey good title to the grantee.
Florida Quit Claim Deed Rules and Requirements
Section 695.26 of Florida law spells out the requirements for getting a quitclaim deed. Here are the seven items that a quitclaim deed must include:
- Grantor. The current owner of the property.
- Grantee. The person receiving the property.
- Consideration. The amount of money received by the grantor in exchange for giving the property to the grantee.
- Legal Description. A formal written description used to identify the property. Note this is not the USPS address.
- Signature of the grantor. But not the grantee.
- Signatures of two witnesses.
- Signature of a notary.
How to File a Quitclaim Deed
There are three steps to filing a quitclaim deed in Florida:
- Enter the relevant information on a quitclaim deed form.
- Sign the deed with two witnesses and a notary.
- Record the deed at the county comptroller’s office.
In Florida, quitclaim deeds must have the name and address of both the grantor and the grantee. Once the information is correctly entered on the quit claim deed form, the grantor signs the deed at the bottom above their printed name. If the property is the grantor’s homestead, and the grantor is married, both the grantor and their spouse must sign the deed even if the property is legally titled in only the grantor’s name. The grantor’s signature must be witnessed and notarized in order to be recorded in the public record.
Then, the grantee delivers the signed, witnessed, and notarized quitclaim deed to the county comptroller’s office for the county where the property is located for recording. The comptroller’s office will charge you a small fee for the recording. However, expect a larger fee and transfer taxes if there is a mortgage on the property.
The comptroller’s office records the deed into the county’s official records. The county will return the original deed to the grantee. The recording of the deed gives public notice of the change of ownership, and the recording establishes the transfer in the official chain of title. An uninterrupted chain of title is required to insure title to a subsequent purchaser or mortgage lender.
Important: Make sure the quitclaim deed is properly drafted. Just because the county accepts your document for recording does not mean that the county reviews the deed for legal sufficiency.
Quitclaim Deed vs. Warranty Deed
A warranty deed is the type of deed typically used in arms-length real estate sales to unrelated buyers. The warranty deed guarantees clear and marketable title to the property being sold. The grantor/seller is personally liable for title defects and liens that are discovered post-transfer by warranty deed. Title insurance companies will sell insurance for warranty deeds after the insurance company has examined the recorded chain of title.
Both a Florida quitclaim deed and a warranty deed transfer an ownership interest in property to someone else. Unlike a warranty deed, a quitclaim deed does not provide any guarantees, or warranty, that the grantee is getting clear and marketable title to the property.
In Florida, quitclaim deeds are most often used to transfer property to one’s family or a family LLC or estate planning trust. These transfers are typically for no consideration, and the recipient family member, or family-owned business, is less concerned about title issues. Transfer of real estate between unrelated people should almost never be done via quitclaim deed.
Quit Claim Deed Forms
Several non-attorney form websites sell quit claim deed forms and they provide completed deeds for signature after you provide some basic information. These online services are cheaper than hiring an attorney.
An online form generator site works well if you fully understand the legality of quit claim deeds and you have no questions about the property transfer. However, some people find that the additional cost of having an attorney prepare a quit claim deed gives them peace of mind that the deed is prepared properly.
Quitclaim Deed After Divorce
In Florida, a quitclaim deed can be used to transfer property after a divorce pursuant to a marital settlement agreement or divorce judgment. The quitclaim deed transfers all interests that one spouse has in the property to the other spouse, and the transferring spouse complies with the terms of the divorce order or agreement.
Regardless of which spouse prepares the deed, only the transferring spouse must sign the deed. The receiving spouse does not need to sign the deed.
Tip: County recording fees for quitclaim deeds are often less if being transferred pursuant to a divorce judgment.
Can You Transfer Property with a Quitclaim Deed if You Have a Mortgage?
You can use a quitclaim deed in Florida even if the property is encumbered by a mortgage. The quitclaim deed does alter or transfer the mortgage and does not change personal liability to pay the mortgage note.
In other words, the grantor will still be responsible personally to pay the mortgage lender after transferring the property. Technically, the lender could call, or accelerate, the entire loan due if they discover that the grantor has transferred the property without first paying off the mortgage.
This rarely occurs in practice. Lenders have no reason to call the loan due after a quitclaim transfer so long as the new owner continues making timely mortgage payments. Even if a loan were called, the grantee can refinance the debt or get their own loan to pay off the original mortgage debt.
Making a Quitclaim Deed After Death
You cannot make a quitclaim deed become effective after your death. Once you fully execute a quitclaim deed, the intended transfer of title is immediate (although it still needs to be recorded).
Another type of deed, called a lady bird deed, can effect an after-death transfer. A lady bird deed provides that the grantor keeps the property during the grantor’s lifetime and that legal title transfers automatically to a grantee upon the owner’s death.
Cost of a Quitclaim Deed in Florida
You do not have to be an attorney to prepare a Florida quit claim deed. Absent attorney fees, your costs would only be the recording fees that the county comptroller charges and transfer fees if the property is mortgaged.
If you have any concerns about making the quitclaim deed legally correct, you could hire an attorney to write the deed. With an attorney, a quitclaim deed costs between $250 to $350 in most cases.
Quitclaim Deed FAQs
How does a quit claim deed work in Florida?
A quitclaim deed in Florida transfers whatever title the grantor has in real property to a grantee. The grantor provides no warranty that they are conveying clear and marketable title to the property. After the grantor signs the deed with two witnesses and a notary, the quitclaim deed is recorded in the county public records.
Why would someone do a quit claim deed?
What are the disadvantages of a quit claim deed?
The disadvantage of a quit claim deed is that it lacks guarantees that come with a warranty deed. An unrelated buyer paying money for a property should never accept a quitclaim deed.
Does a quitclaim deed give you ownership?
A quitclaim deed transfers ownership of the property if the person signing the quitclaim deed has good title to the property. The quitclaim deed cannot transfer any greater title or interest than the grantor has prior to transfer. If there are any title issues when the grantor owns the property, the grantee will have those same issues.
Can you sell your house with just a quit claim deed?
While technically a property owner could sell their house with a quit claim deed, it almost never happens. A title company and lender will insist on the use of a warranty deed.