||Before entering into a Connecticut real estate transaction, either as a buyer (grantee) or a seller (grantor), spend some time reviewing the rules governing real property. Most laws relating to real estate deeds are codified in Title 47 of the Connecticut General Statutes (2011).
Connecticut does not impose residency restrictions on land ownership; anyone, regardless of citizenship or domicile, may buy and sell real estate (§ 47-7a).
One of the most important rules is set out early in the General Statutes—the requirement for recording. By presenting a correctly executed (signed) and delivered (accepted by the grantee) deed to the town clerk, the grantee enters the change in the real property’s ownership status into the public record, and provides constructive notice to future purchasers. Constructive notice is based on the expectation that a person will perform sufficient preparatory research into publicly available information before completing a process – in this case, buying real estate. To ensure that recorded deeds provide accurate data, the town clerk marks each accepted document with the exact time and date of submission (§ 7-24).
Connecticut follows a notice recording act: “No conveyance shall be effectual to hold any land against any other person but the grantor and his heirs, unless recorded on the records of the town in which the land lies” (§ 47-10(a)). If a bona fide purchaser (buyer for value, usually money) buys a parcel of land that the same grantor sold earlier to someone else, who never recorded the transfer, the later purchaser is protected by the recording statute and generally keeps the land. For example: A deeds land to B, who, in direct violation of the law, fails to record the deed with the town clerk. A later deeds the same land to C, who previously reviewed the chain of title (ownership history) and saw A as the named owner, with no evidence of the transfer to B. C records in a timely fashion. Once C records, B loses rights to the property.
To be eligible for recording, Connecticut real estate deeds must meet statutory content and format requirements:
- Real estate deeds must be in writing (§ 47-5).
- The grantor or an authorized representative must sign the deed, and the signature must be witnessed by two people who are not involved with the transaction. The notary who acknowledges the deed may act as one of the witnesses (§ 47-5).
- All pages of the deed should have minimum ¾” clear margins on the top, bottom, left, and right (§ 7-24(f)).
- At the top of the first page, include a name and address for where the clerk should return the recorded deed (§ 7-24(f)).
- Use a title that describes the purpose of the instrument: “Warranty Deed,” “Quitclaim Deed,” etc. (§ 7-24(d)).
- Grantor’s name and address. Also, if the grantor acquired the property under a different name, include the former name. For example: Jane Smith, formerly known as Jane Henderson
(§ 47-13) and (§ 47-36(c)).
- Grantee’s name, address, and vesting choice if applicable (§ 47-36(c)).
- Legal property description (§ 47-36(c)).
- Signing date (§ 47-36(c)).
Connecticut allows for two types of co-ownership: tenancy in common and joint tenancy with right of survivorship (§ 47-14a). Both options include significant benefits and drawbacks, so take the time to thoroughly understand each one before deciding how to vest (hold title).
Tenancy in common is the default interest for a deed to two or more individuals (§ 47-36(b)(2)). Under this type of ownership, each person acquires a portion of the property rights, which he/she may convey at will. If a tenant in common dies, that portion reverts back to his/her estate for distribution.
Joint tenancy with right of survivorship describes a situation where the grantees share all ownership rights. The rights may be in equal or unequal shares, and if one joint tenant conveys his/her portion of the property, the joint tenancy breaks and becomes a tenancy in common. Survivorship is the main reason many people choose this type of ownership. If a joint tenant dies, the surviving owners gain the deceased’s interest by operation of law, and without the need for probate intervention. If the grantees wish to vest with this form of ownership, they must state it clearly in the granting clause of the deed. For example: “AB, BB, and CB as joint tenants with right of survivorship” (§ 47-14a).
The Connecticut General Statutes include forms containing the minimum requirements and specific language necessary for warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds (§ 47-36(c)). Section 47-36 also contains information relevant to all Connecticut deeds.
- All instruments conveying land (deeds) pass estates in fee simple unless otherwise noted
(§ 47-36b). An estate in fee simple means the grantor grants absolute ownership of and access to the real property identified in the deed. Fee simple estates also include the right to pass the property on to heirs, so no technical words of inheritance are needed (§ 47-36k).
- All rights, privileges, and appurtenances are included in any conveyance unless specifically excluded by the grantor (§ 47-361).
Warranty deeds contain covenants of warranty from the grantor that guarantee a clear title for the grantee (§ 47-36d). These promises are implied by specific language in the text of the deed, “with warranty covenants,” and assert that:
- at the time of delivery of the deed, the grantor is lawfully seized in fee simple of the granted premises
- the granted premises are free from all encumbrances except as stated in the deed
- the grantor has good right, full power and lawful authority to sell and convey the property to the grantee
- the grantor and his heirs, executors and administrators shall warrant and defend the granted premises to the grantee and his assigns forever against the claims and demands of all persons, except as stated in the deed.
Quitclaim deeds only convey the grantor’s interest, if any, in the property, and contain no covenants of warranty. The words “with quitclaim covenants” only promise that the grantor and “any other person or persons in his name and behalf or claiming under him shall not or will not hereafter claim or demand any right or title to the premises or any part thereof, but they and each of them shall be excluded and forever barred therefrom except as therein set forth” (§ 47-36g).