A quitclaim deed is a type of deed by which a person (the “grantor”) grants real property (i.e., land) to another person (the “grantee”) and also disclaims any interest that he or she may have in the transferred property. This type of deed conveys the grantor’s complete interest (or “claim”) in the real property but does not provide a warranty that the title is valid. A quitclaim deed in no way obligates the grantor. In other words, the grantor makes no representation or promises to the grantee that the property has a clear title or even that he or she has the title to the property at all!
If the grantor does not have title to the property, or if the title to the property is contested by a third party, the quitclaim deed is worth less than the proverbial paper it is written on. After all, if the grantor has no interest in the property in the first place, the quitclaim deed conveys nothing to the grantee. The quitclaim deed is only effective to pass ownership of the property if the grantor, at the time the deed is executed, has complete control of the property. If the grantor obtains an interest in the property after executing the quitclaim deed, the deed is still not effective to pass ownership to the grantee. This is because at the time the quitclaim deed was executed, the grantor did not have an interest in the property, and nothing was granted by the deed.
For this reason, a quitclaim deed is less common than warranty deeds. A warranty deed, unlike a quitclaim deed, expressly guarantees that the grantor has good, clear title, without any encumbrances and further guarantees that the grantor will defend the title against all claims.
One common use of the quitclaim deed is in a divorce in which one party grants the other party full rights to a party in which both parties held an interest. In that case, a clear title is assured presumably because both parties had jointly obtained the property with a warranty deed in the first place. There are few reasons for a property transfer between strangers to use a quitclaim deed rather than a warranty deed. One scenario in which quitclaim deeds are used is when no one could provide a clear title to the property and the grantee purchases the property at his or her own risk.