Estoppel by Deed
In common law systems, when an estoppel doctrine is applied, it helps to prevent litigants from denying truths about what was either said, or done. Also referred to as after-acquired title, an estoppel by deed doctrine within context regarding the transfer of real property. With this doctrine, a grantor of the deed, usually the individual selling the real property, is estopped (barred) from withholding the truth from a deed. In addition, the doctrine is able to be invoked only during a suit which brings forth the deed, or involves a specific right brought forth from the deed.
Although root within the warranty deeds, the doctrine of an estoppel is expanded and impacts quitclaim deeds as well, under the means of the deed being represented has a title held by the grantor.
- In the event that individual (O) conveys a piece of property that they do not actually own to another party (A) by means of a warranty deed. However, individual (O) acquires a land title to that piece of property in the future, at which time the title will immediately be passed over to the other party (A).
- Although, if in the above scenario, individual (O) were to convey a piece of property they do not actually own to another party (A) by means of a warranty deed, but individual (O) acquires a land title to that piece of property in the future, at which time individual (A) may be able to choose to treat individual (O)’s lack of providing a title during the conveyance as being a breach associated with the covenant of seisin, along with having the right to convey, which is two of six traditional types of Covenants for Title which are retained within generalized warranty deeds. Therefore, individual (O) may be sued by individual (A) for damages. Furthermore, if individual (A) decides to receive damages, the party is not required to accept the after-acquired title from individual (O), and may move forward with receiving damages.
- Meanwhile, if individual (O) were to convey a piece of property that they do not actually own to another party (A) by means of a quitclaim deed, but individual (O) acquires a land title to that piece of property in the future, at which time individual (A) will not own the property. The reason for this is due to individual (O) legally passing their interest to the other party (A) by means of a quitclaim deed. Therefore, at the time of the conveyance between the two parties, individual (O) had transferred their interest, but had no interests, so individual (O) had nothing to pass or transfer to individual (A).
W. E. Coldwell Co. v. Cowart, 138 Ga. 233, 75 S.E. 425, 427 (1912), citing 16 Cyc. 699: “A recital works an estoppel only in an action founded on a deed, or brought to enforce rights arising under it.”