NYC Ownership, Title & Deed Issues

Real estate involves a combination of several different and complex areas of law and multiple jurisdictions. The complexity of real estate transactions often results in issues that range from minor to fatal for the transaction or right to possess property. At Scaffidi & Associates, our lawyers have decades of collective experience in transactions, litigation, mediation, and even arbitration. We successfully represent buyers, sellers, lenders, developers, and all other real estate professionals in commercial and residential real estate matters. If you have an issue pertaining to real estate, particularly relating to ownership, title, or deed, please call our office or complete the contact form on our website to set up an initial consultation.

What is the difference between a deed and title?

When someone says that they hold title to a property, he or she is referring to being the legal possessor of the property in whole or in part. This means that the individual has a legal interest in the property. The title establishes the legal owner(s) of a property. Conversely, the deed is the legal instrument used to transfer one individual’s property interest to another. Thus, title refers to the current owner(s) of the property while a deed is the legal document that transfers title from one individual to another.

What are the types of real estate property ownership in New York City?

Under New York law, there are four primary manners in which owners may hold title to property:

  1. Sole ownership – an individual hold full ownership over the property
  2. Tenants in common – ownership by two or more individuals where each holds an undivided interest in the property that does not have to be equal, and each owner can borrow against, sell, etc. that interest
  3. Joint tenants – ownership by two or more individuals where each holds an undivided and equal interest in the property with the rights of survivorship
  4. Tenants by the entirety – a variation of joint tenancy for married couples

The distinctions and intricacies for the different ownership structures are numerous. If you have questions pertaining to property ownership in New York, please contact our offices for a free consultation.

What are the types of real estate deeds in New York City?

Deeds vary in the scope of what they guarantee or the specific context in which they are made. The three most common New York deeds are listed below:

  1. Warranty Deed
  2. Bargain and Sale Deed
  3. Quitclaim Deed

A warranty deed provides the greatest protection to buyers and contains the following primary guarantees:

  1. The seller is the owner of the property
  2. The property is not subject to any undisclosed encumbrances
  3. The seller warrants and agrees to defend the title in any claims against it

In short, a warranty deed guarantees to the buyer that the property is exactly as stated – if not, the seller is liable. When transferring ownership via a bargain and sale deed, the seller only guarantees that the seller is the true owner of the property. Finally, a quitclaim deed does not make any guarantees to the seller’s ability to sell the property, encumbrances, or even if the seller is the true owner of the property. These are the primary deeds used in real estate transactions in New York, but many customized deeds are drafted to meet the needs of the buyer and seller. If you have questions pertaining to deeds, please contact our office. 

What are the requirements for a deed in New York City?

To successfully convey property in New York, deeds must comply with the following requirements:

  1. Properly identify the seller (grantor) and buyer (grantee)
  2. Identify the consideration given (consideration is what is given in exchange for the property)
  3. Clearly state a granting clause such as “I hereby grant . . .”
  4. Properly identify the property through a metes-and-bounds or tax block and lot number legal description
  5. Be properly executed by the seller

Requirements for the deed are strict. If the deed fails to adhere to the form requirements listed above, then the deed is defective and will not properly transfer title. An issue as seemingly basic as the seller’s signature not being notarized by qualified New York notary public will render the deed (and transfer) invalid. 

What are common issues?

Given the complexity of property law and strict requirements to form, issues relating to deed and title are common – failure to adhere to the strict form requirements for deeds may render the deed invalid. Deed issues can often be resolved through redrafting the deed, but title issues often require more complex solutions. 

Title issues often result in a combination of issues that require a skilled real estate attorney to resolve. For example, an individual who acquires title through bargain and sale deed may not realize that the property has a tax lien or other creditor’s lien. Similarly, an individual who acquires property via quitclaim deed may discover that the seller didn’t actually own the property. These are major issues that need to be resolved. However, even where a warranty deed is granted and a warranty provision violated, resolution is not as simple as calling the other party to fix. In many cases, such a scenario results in litigation to enforce the warranty provisions.

Contact Our New York City Title, Deed, and Ownership Real Estate Attorneys

As experienced real estate litigation attorneys serving the New York City metropolitan area, we are trusted in resolving the most complex issues relating to title, deed, and ownership of real estate. The attorneys at Scaffidi & Associates understand the intricacies of New York’s property laws, civil procedure, and contract law – a combination that is necessary to successfully represent individuals and businesses in resolving title, deed, and ownership issues in a win-win situation. To keep minor issues minor, or to resolve major issues facing you or your firm, please call our office or complete the contact form on our website to set up an initial consultation.


We encourage you to take the time to explore this website as the information provided here will answer many of your questions. We believe that an educated client is our best client. We are also readily available to discuss your case in confidence, whether it’s a matter involving personal injury, medical malpractice, real estate, or other legal challenges. Regardless of the issue you are facing, we are uniquely qualified to provide you with exceptional legal representation and personal service. Call our office or complete the contact form on our website to set up a consultation.