What Is A Lien In Real Estate? (Solution)

A lien is a legal right or claim against a property by a creditor. Liens are commonly placed against property, such as homes and cars, so that creditors, such as banks and credit unions, can collect what is owed to them. Liens can also be removed, giving the owner full and clear title to the property.


What is a lien in real estate example?

A “lien” is a simple legal term that claims the ownership of the property as listed on the title of the home. Another example of a lien is a construction lien. If the homeowner decides to complete common repairs, maintenance or a remodeling project, it is common practice to hire a contractor to complete the work.

What is a lien and how does it work?

A lien provides a creditor with the legal right to seize and sell the collateral property or asset of a borrower who fails to meet the obligations of a loan or contract. The property that is the subject of a lien cannot be sold by the owner without the consent of the lien holder.

What does lien on real estate mean?

A property lien is a legal claim on assets that allows the holder to obtain access to the property if debts are not paid. Property liens can be granted for repossessing property such as a car, boat, or even a house if the owner has defaulted on mortgage payments.

What are the different types of liens in real estate?

There are three common types of liens: statutory, consensual, and judgment.

Is a mortgage a lien?

In terms of modern real estate transactions, a mortgage is the lien you give against your property as security for money you borrowed. This creates what’s often known as a “mortgage lien,” which is specifically the lien on your property that secures the debt created by the mortgage loan.

Is a lien bad?

A lien gives an individual or entity a claim to a property until a debt is paid off. If the debt goes unpaid, they have the right to take it back. It’s generally considered to be a bad thing if you have a lien on your property.

How are liens enforced?

A lien is a security arrangement or legal right that is acquired by a creditor on real property. Debtors who fail to pay their debt can be taken to court. In these cases, the creditor can enforce the lien, which involves perfecting a lien, filing a claim on the debt, and other steps to seize property.

Is lien the same as collateral?

You grant the lender a security interest in your property, and it means they have a lien. The lien secures the loan, so that if you don’t pay, the lender can take the property. The property you pledge to secure a loan is called collateral.

Here’s What to Do If You Have a Lien on Your House

If you have a mortgage on your home, you almost certainly have a lien on it. This is a claim that allows the bank who financed your loan the legal authority to repossess your property if you ever fall behind on your loan payments. Having this type of lien, on the other hand, is not always a terrible thing. This is due to the fact that it is an integral element of the home-buying process—and that many homeowners have one. However, not all mortgages are created equal. In fact, some might have a negative influence on your credit score and your financial future.

In this section, you’ll learn about liens, including what they are and how they affect your credit score.

Key Takeaways

  • In the legal world, liens are legal claims made against property by creditors in order to collect money owing to them. Liens can be generic or specialized in nature, and they can be voluntary or involuntary in nature. If a homeowner fails to meet his or her financial obligations, the lienholder may lawfully take and sell the property. Even if tax liens are no longer reportable, other involuntary liens may have a negative influence on your credit score. Homeowners can get their liens lifted by negotiating payment arrangements or paying off their obligations.

What Is a Lien?

A creditor’s legal right or claim against a property is referred to as an alien. A lien is a legal claim against a piece of property, such as a home or a car, that allows creditors such as banks and credit unions to collect money owing to them. Liens are widely filed against real estate and personal property. Liens can also be discharged, granting the owner complete and unhindered ownership of the property. Liens restrict the amount of money that an owner may spend on an asset since creditors are granted a share in the item as compensation for the money owing to them.

Liens grant creditors specific legal rights, which are particularly useful when a debtor has not paid or has refused to fulfill their financial commitment.

Types of House Liens

Certain forms of liens, such as particular and general liens, are distinguishable from one another. Specific liens are those that are tied to a specific asset. For example, the auto dealership where you purchase your vehicle may just hold a lien on your vehicle and nothing else. A home lien is a legal claim on tangible property (such as a house) made by a creditor to collect a debt. In the event of a general lien, on the other hand, the creditor has the right to claim any and all of your assets, including your house, car, furniture, and financial accounts.

When a bank advances a loan to a borrower, the bank creates a lien on the property, which is known as a voluntary lien.

In addition to contractors and governments, various types of creditors can file claims against a debtor.

Tax lien

A tax lien is a legal claim against your property that is placed on your property by a government agency for any unpaid income taxes, company taxes, or property taxes. For example, if you owe back taxes to the federal government, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may place a lien on your house. First and foremost, the agency notifies you in writing of your responsibilities.

If you do not respond, or if you do not make adequate arrangements to pay off the obligation, the IRS may place a lien on your house or other assets as a result of your failure to respond. The only method to get rid of this type of lien is to pay off the debt that has accumulated.

General judgment lien

In this case, a creditor is awarded a lien after a court of law finds in the creditor’s favor. The failure of a debtor to satisfy their financial commitments may result in the creditor deciding to take legal action against the debtor in order to recover any remaining unpaid amount. As soon as the creditor receives a favorable decision from the court, the lien must be recorded with the county or other proper recording body. If the debtor does not come to an arrangement to pay off the obligation, the filer has the authority to seize a piece of property, whether real or personal, and sell it to satisfy the debt.

Mechanic’s lien

An amechanic’s lien, also known as a property or construction lien, is filed by construction businesses, builders, and contractors when a property owner fails or refuses to pay for finished work or supplies. This legal document enables businesses to be paid in the event of payment complications that may arise as a consequence of a contract’s breach of terms. Before filing a mechanic’s lien, most contractors and other companies submit a request for payment to the debtor as well as a notice of intent to file a lien.

For this to happen, you must file documentation with the county or relevant local agency, including information about the property, the sort of repair done, and the amount of money owing.

Do Liens Hurt Homeowners?

Both yes and no. First and foremost, let us answer the “no.” Liens imposed on real estate are automated and may have nothing to do with your credit history or ability to pay. This type of voluntary lien is placed on every property that has a mortgage, so it shouldn’t be a problem for you as long as you make your normal mortgage payments on time. Once you have paid off your mortgage, the lien is erased and you are no longer liable for the debt. Let’s take a look at the “yes” in this case. A lien of any kind, regardless of the type, is typically detrimental to the homeowner.

The existence of a lien does not imply that the property’s title has been transferred, although it may be considered a step in that direction if the creditor wishes to proceed.

Property seizures and sales are a possibility, especially if the cause is nonpayment of property taxes; however, this is not always the case.

The majority of lienholders choose not to foreclose in favor of waiting for the homeowner to pay the debt or sell the property before taking action.

However, liens are advantageous to creditors as well as employees such as construction workers, for example. This is owing to the fact that liens safeguard their rights, ensuring that they receive proper remuneration for services completed for a homeowner or business.

A Word About Credit Scores

There may be some ambiguity over how liens influence your credit score and which liens are truly included on your credit report. Some mechanic’s liens and judgment liens are reportable, which means that they will appear on your credit report at some point in the future. This is because they are taken into account when calculating your payback history, which accounts for more than a third of your credit score. It is necessary for creditors to get a minimal amount of identifying information from debtors, such as their date of birth or Social Security number, in order to file a report (SSN).

  1. Not all liens, on the other hand, have the same effect on your credit score.
  2. Tax liens are treated in the same way.
  3. Because of the large amount of mistakes, discrepancies, and disagreements that the agencies were receiving, they decided to stop reporting them.
  4. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, each of these credit reporting bureaus is required to give you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months upon request.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay a Property Lien?

It is the purpose of a lien to protect a creditor while also ensuring that the debtors fulfill their financial responsibilities. If the debtor takes reasonable measures to complete the obligation, or if an alternative payment plan is established and executed, the debtor should not be bound by a lien on the real estate. However, if this does not occur, it is possible that things will alter. After all other options for settling a debt have been exhausted, a creditor may elect to place a lien on the property in question.

Property Tax Liens

When landowners or homeowners fail to pay their property taxes, the local government has the authority to place a lien on the property in order to recover the unpaid taxes. This implies that the owner will be unable to refinance or sell the property unless the debt is satisfied in order to eliminate the lien. When a tax lien is put on a property, the government gives a tax lien certificate to the owner. Detailed information on the property, the amount owing, and any additional charges such as interest and/or penalties are included in this document.

This enables the government to reclaim the funds it has spent.

As soon as the obligation is satisfied, the lien is released. If the debtor fails to repay the obligation, the lienholder—in this example, the investor—may be able to enforce the lien in order to retrieve the money they invested.

How to Remove a Lien

There are a variety of options available for removing a lien from a property. The first step is to work out a resolution with the lienholder. The settlement procedure is dependent on the type of lien, the connection between the debtor and the lienholder, and the value of the lien, among other considerations. Depending on the circumstances, a lienholder may agree to release the lien if both parties can agree on a repayment schedule. Please keep in mind that a lien is attached to the property and not to the person who owns the property.

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There are several disadvantages to taking this course of action.

Furthermore, a homeowner who has a lien against his or her property may find it difficult to sell the property.

The quickest and most easy method of removing a lien on your property is to pay the bill in full.

How Do You Get a Lien Off Your House?

Generally, the quickest and most straightforward method of removing a lien is to pay the outstanding obligation, either in full or by agreeing to a payment plan.

How Do Property Liens Work?

Liens on real estate are legal claims on a property that are given by the court system to creditors when a debtor fails to pay their debts. Liens are filed with the county office and notices are delivered to the property owner informing them that the asset has been repossessed (s).

What Kind of Liens Can Be on a House?

Liens can be either generic or specialized in nature, and they can be either voluntary or involuntary. Tax liens, judgment liens, and mechanic’s liens are all examples of different sorts of liens.

Can You Have a Lien on Your House from a Previous Owner?

Generally speaking, no. Individuals do not often purchase properties that have outstanding liens, and most sellers remove any outstanding liens before marketing their property to prevent delays and other complications. Even if a buyer was ready to assume a lien, it is unlikely that they would be able to find a lender willing to finance the transaction. Lenders may transfer their obligations to buyers in specific circumstances. For example: When an owner buys their house at auction, the lender’s obligations to them become the buyer’s duty.

Make sure to conduct a title check before purchasing a home since it is the most effective approach to ensure that no one else has a claim to the property.

How Do You Do a Property Lien Search?

Liens are public information that may be found on the internet.

In most states, you may conduct a free address search on the website of the county recorder, clerk, or assessor’s office. Alternatively, you can appear in person at the county clerk’s office, or you can pay a title business to conduct the search on your behalf for a small cost.

The Bottom Line

Until their mortgages are paid off, all homeowners are subject to liens on their properties. While these liens do not harm you since they are voluntary, other types of liens might have a negative impact on your money and credit score. If you fail to meet your financial responsibilities, Uncle Sam and other creditors may file a tax lien, a judgment lien, or a mechanic’s lien against your property in order to force you to pay your bills. If you continue to fail to pay, they may be able to enforce the lien, foreclose on or seize the asset, and use the proceeds to pay off the obligation on your behalf.

What Is A “Lien” In Real Estate?

In legalese, a “lien” is a basic legal word that asserts the owner’s rights to a piece of real estate that is mentioned on the title of the residence. It signifies that the house is being held as collateral until a certain debt is paid off, such as a mortgage. Mortgage companies are the most prevalent forms of lienholders, however other sorts of lienholders might include utility providers, contractors, and other businesses. In general, whenever a borrower owes money to anyone, that person or corporation has the right to place a lien against the property in question.

  • Nonetheless, there are some circumstances – such as a homeowner who fails to make payments on their mortgage or other obligations – in which a lienholder may request that the property be sold in order to recover the money due.
  • Because the borrower has failed to make his or her monthly mortgage payment, the lender (the mortgage holder) will be able to take possession of the collateral.
  • A construction lien is another type of lien that might exist.
  • The homeowner is responsible for payment after the service is done.
  • In the event that you decide to acquire a new house at some point throughout the process, your escrowagent or attorney will examine whether there are any liens on the property that must be removed before the home can be purchased.
  • The title search will reveal whether or not there are any liens against the property and whether or not the owner is legally recognized as the property’s owner.
  • A difficulty might arise in the event that there are liens on the property other than those held by the mortgage lender.

This protects you against acquiring a house that cannot be lawfully sold because it is being used as collateral for other obligations you owe, such as credit card debt. Liens are discussed in detail in the following real estate articles:

  • Buyers of foreclosed homes should be cautious of liens. Place a lien on the property of a non-paying condo owner
  • If you fail to pay the Obamacare penalty, the IRS will not be able to place a lien on your house. How to get a federal tax lien removed from your consumer credit report

What Is a Property Lien?

A “lien” is a notification that attaches to your property, alerting the world that a creditor thinks you owe it some money. A lien is generally considered to be a public record. It is usually filed with a county records office (in the case of real estate) or with a state agency, such as the secretary of state, in the case of personal property (boats, mobile homes, office equipment, and the like). Liens are a popular tool for creditors to recover what they’re owed. W hen someone sets a lien on your property, that property effectively becomes security for the debt.

A lien on your house, mobile home, car, or other property makes your title unclear.

So, creditors know that establishing a lien on property is a cheap and nearly certain means of obtaining what they’re owed—sooner or later.

Lien Priority

In the event of a foreclosure, lien priority dictates the order in which creditors are paid. Any lien with “priority” over another lien is paid first, while the other lien is paid after the first lien. In accordance with the legal principle known as “first in time, first in right,” liens normally take precedence in the order in which they are filed with the appropriate government agency. However, like with other legal norms, there are exceptions to the “first in time, first in right” rule. When it comes to real estate, some liens, such as property tax liens, mechanic’s liens, homeowners’ association and condominium association assessment liens, and others, such as mechanic’s liens, have precedence over previously recorded liens, depending on the state legislation.

What Are Some Common Types of Liens for Real Property?

Properties, such as residential dwellings, are frequently subject to more than one lien at the same time. A voluntary lien is one in which the homeowner decides to place a lien on his or her property. Mortgage liens are one example of a voluntary lien. Most other liens, such as homeowners’ association liens, property tax liens, judgment and mechanics liens, are imposed without the homeowner’s permission.

Mortgage Liens

If you take out a loan to purchase a home, the lender will do a title search on the property before disbursing the loan funds to ensure that the property is free and clear of liens. If the property is free and clear of encumbrances, you’ll most likely be required to sign a mortgage or deed of trust (or a similar instrument) to secure the obligation. The lender will then record the mortgage, which is referred to as a first mortgage, in the public land records in order to place a lien on the property in order to protect their investment.

Homeowners’ Association Liens

Unless you pay your homeowners’ association (HOA) dues, the HOA will frequently automatically get a lien against your property. According to the rules of the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, HOA debts are normally subordinate to a first mortgage in a real estate transaction.

However, if your state has enacted a super-lien legislation, the HOA lien may be considered superior to the mortgage lien in some cases.

Property Tax Liens

Property tax liens outperform practically all other forms of liens, including mortgage liens, in terms of security. As a result, if you or your loan servicer fail to pay your property’s taxes, the property may be sold in a tax sale. It is possible that both you and the lender will lose your stake in the property if a tax sale happens. Because tax sales erase mortgage liens, loan servicers are often responsible for paying property taxes when a homeowner is unable to do so on their own.

Judgment Liens

It is possible to have a judgment lien placed on your property when someone wins a case against you and registers the judgment against your property; this is known as an involuntary lien.

Mechanic’s Liens

You should be aware that if you hire someone to work on your home, such as to replace your roof or carry out any type of substantial renovation, the contractor may file a mechanic’s lien on your property if you fail to pay them for their services. This sort of lien is also preferable to a first-lien mortgage in terms of security.

How Do Creditors Collect on Real Property Liens?

In most cases, creditors have the right to have real property sold in order to satisfy a debt, which is normally accomplished through the foreclosure process. However, with the exception of mortgage liens and property tax liens, they do not frequently do so. Mortgages and property tax liens take precedence over the vast majority of other liens. When a creditor forecloses on a junior lien, the property subject to the mortgage or tax lien is taken by the creditor. Rather of forcing a foreclosure sale, creditors typically wait until the property has been sold before taking action.

As a result, the seller will apply a portion of the purchase price toward the repayment of any existing liens.

Talk to a Lawyer

You should consult with a real estate or foreclosure attorney if you are concerned that a lien has been unintentionally placed on your property. You should learn about your rights and options, which may include ways to potentially settle the debt or fight the lien if it is deemed to be unenforceable. A debt settlement attorney may potentially be able to assist you..

Liens: Everything You Need To Know

It is possible to have liens placed on numerous sorts of property, each with its unique set of characteristics. In general, though, liens signify that the person who has the lien has a legal claim to the property in issue. Because liens are placed on real estate, which is a non-liquid sort of asset, lien holders have the authority to compel the sale of the property in order to settle the debt owed to them. You can’t just magically create $5,000 in cash spring from the bricks of your house if you have $5,000 in debt to a lien holder, for example.

When a property with several liens is sold, each lien holder is normally entitled to a portion of the revenues from the sale.

Other sorts of liens, such as property tax liens, may, on the other hand, take precedence regardless of when they were registered.


Consider the following illustration of how a lien is generally used: Consider the following scenario: you obtained a mortgage to purchase your property. You have legal ownership of your house, which means you are the legal owner of the property. However, because you owe your mortgage lender the money they loaned you to purchase your home, they will place a lien on the property to protect their investment. The lien will not be activated as long as you continue to make your monthly mortgage payments.

The lender may, however, initiate the foreclosure procedure if you fail to make your mortgage payments on a regular basis.

They are able to do this because of the lien.

Understanding Real Estate Liens

A real estate lien is a legal claim that entitles the lienholder to receive payment from the proceeds of the sale of the property that is subject to the lien. They are frequently used as collateral to guarantee that a lender receives payment for the loan that a borrower owes to the lender. This is most commonly seen in the context of a mortgage. Although liens against the property of delinquent borrowers can be imposed, they are not generally used in this manner. Getting acquainted with the sorts of liens that may exist on the property you plan to purchase is essential before making a real estate purchase.

Types of Real Estate Liens

There are many various forms of liens that can be assigned to real estate. The following are some examples. A judgment lien, for example, can only be put on a property after a creditor has filed a lawsuit against the borrower and won the case in the creditor’s favor in court. This sort of lien can be imposed on a property without the approval of the borrower. Other forms of property liens do not need the entry of a court judgment in order to be established. The following are examples of such things:

  • Child support liens are a type of legal claim. Liens can be imposed on property owned by individuals who have outstanding child support arrears
  • These liens, known as mechanic’s liens, can only be removed once the debtor has paid off the bill. The filing of a mechanic’s lien against a property occurs when a contractor completes work on a property but does not receive payment for his or her services. In Illinois, a contractor has four months after the completion of work to record a mechanic’s lien, which the contractor must then enforce within two years of the recording of the claim. Tax liens against real estate. Property taxes are always recorded as a lien against a property in Illinois. Whenever a property owner fails to pay his or her property taxes, the government may sell the debt to a third-party tax buyer to recover the money owed. It is possible that the tax buyer will eventually get complete legal title to the property if the sold taxes are not quickly redeemed (i.e. paid in full with interest and other expenses). as well as IRS liens Similar to a property tax lien, an Internal Revenue Service lien is a lien put on a person’s property in order to recover outstanding income taxes that that person owes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

When a debt is not paid off, the lienholder has the right to file a foreclosure action against the property in question. The method in which the property is titled, on the other hand, may give some protection against that form of legal action.

Determining if your Property Has a Lien

Liens are a matter of public record, and you can look for them by contacting the office of the County Recorder in the relevant county. Some counties now offer searchable online repositories for all recorded papers, which may be accessed at any time. However, obtaining either a tract search or a title report for the subject property is usually the most reliable method of determining whether any liens have been registered against the property. If the property is being sold, the contract will almost always require the seller to obtain a title commitment or title abstract, which will reveal whether any specific liens exist that affect that specific property.

Those papers should be scrutinized by an expert real estate attorney as soon as they are made accessible. It is the Seller’s responsibility to pay any other debts before to closing, with the exception of those that “run with the property” (e.g., real estate tax liens).

What to Do if there is a Lien on the Property you Intend to Purchase

You will be advised of any existing liens on the property you wish to acquire by your BGL real estate attorney, who will analyze the title commitment and advise you accordingly. When considering whether or not to pursue a property, this might be a deciding element in your decision. In the majority of circumstances, the seller will be able to get payoffs and satisfy any liens from the selling proceeds at the time of closing. However, if you chance to acquire a home that has an unreleased lien on it, which might happen if you close on the property without legal representation, you may find yourself facing collection attempts on the lien.

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Work with an Experienced McHenry County Real Estate Lawyer

Real estate lawcan be complicated, and property liens are just one of the many issues that are best handled with the guidance of an experienced Crystal Lake real estate lawyer. To learn more about real estate liens and what to do if you are facing one,contact our teamat Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC today to set up your initial consultation in our office.

Liens: What They Are And How They Work

Note from the editors: We receive a commission from affiliate links on Forbes Advisor. The thoughts and ratings of our editors are not influenced by commissions. Legal instruments that safeguard the rights of creditors and other parties who are owed money by property owners include mortgages, liens, and other types of security interests. Liens are routinely utilized by banks, contractors, and the courts to ensure that property owners pay legitimate obligations that have been assessed against them.

It is crucial to have liens on real estate because they might hinder property owners from borrowing against or selling their assets.

What Is a Lien?

It is a legal claim against real property that is recorded with the local county, granting the lienholder legal ownership of the real property in question. Liens are often given by the owner of the property or by a court of law. A lien is created against a specific parcel of real estate and is documented with the county recorder’s office once it has been issued or awarded. It is possible that if someone gets a lien put on their property, they will not be able to demonstrate that they have clear title if they try to sell their property, which would result in the new owner being liable for settling the claim.

How a Lien Works

Liens are claims against property that are either granted by the property owner—for example, to a mortgage lender—or imposed by someone who has filed a claim against the property owner. Liens can be awarded by the property owner or imposed by someone who has filed a claim against the property owner.

When a property owner fails to pay real estate taxes, the local government can register a lien against the property. Liens can also be filed by individuals who have won a judgment against a property owner but have not yet received payment.

Types of Liens

Despite the fact that all liens are a sort of secured interest in real estate, there are many distinct forms of liens. Some liens are granted voluntarily by the property owner, and are known as voluntary liens. Various other types of liens are awarded by courts or taken by government agencies and are not voluntarily created by the parties. Liens may be classified into six types:

1. Mortgage Lien

In the United States, the most prevalent sort of lien is a mortgage. When a mortgage lender grants a loan against a piece of real estate, the lender acquires a lien on the property. Property owners grant this lien freely when they close on their mortgage; it’s one of the several paperwork that homeowners sign when they close on a property.

2. Tax Lien

Property tax liens are special liens that are levied on a piece of real estate when the owner fails to pay their real estate taxes on the property. If tax liens go unpaid over an extended period of time, the government may compel the sale of the property in order to reclaim the unpaid taxes, as well as interest and penalties owed to the government.

3. Mechanics Lien

It is possible for a mechanic’s lien to be filed on your property if you hire someone to do work on your property and fail to pay them in accordance with the terms of your agreement. They can also be filed by vendors that supply goods to a project site, and they are referred to as materialman’s liens in such cases.

4. IRS Lien

When property owners refuse to pay their income taxes, the federal government files IRS liens against their property. These liens are frequently part of a broader attempt by the government to assert claims against all of a taxpayer’s assets in order to recover past taxes owed to the government. if these liens are not paid, the government can pursue a foreclosure action in an attempt to collect the money owed to them.

5. Judgment Lien

Generally speaking, judgment liens are claims on a person’s property that are placed there by a court when the property owner loses a case and fails to pay the winning party. If you are sued, lose, and fail to pay the judgment, the claimant may file a lien against your assets, which may include real estate. Unless you pay them first, you will not be allowed to sell or borrow against your property in the future. Furthermore, if you fail to pay the debt, the lienholder may bring a foreclosure action against you.

6. Child Support Lien

When a property owner fails to pay court-ordered child support, a child support lien is placed against the property. To be imposed, these liens must be ordered by a court, much like other judgment liens, and must be approved by the court.

How to Have a Lien Removed

There are two options for getting a lien erased. The first step is to file a lawsuit against the lien and demonstrate that it is invalid. If a lienholder is unable to demonstrate (or “perfect”) their lien, it will be discharged..

The alternative option is to agree to a voluntary settlement of a lien. And, while this procedure is far less complicated than fighting a lien in court, it is nevertheless not without its difficulties. The following are the typical actions to take in order to satisfy a lien:

  1. Determine how much you owe by reviewing the lien and any underlying agreements with the lienholder
  2. Alternatively, you can directly negotiate a pay-off amount with the lienholder
  3. And Make a payment to the lienholder for the amount that is owing to him. Create a lien release paperwork and have the lienholder sign it, so relinquishing their claim in your property
  4. Drafting a lien release document Make sure that the lien release is registered at your local county recorder’s office in order to have the lien removed from your possession.

There are rare instances in which the lien clearance procedure is completely frictionless, requiring no action on the side of the property owner. Whenever a homeowner pays off the mortgage on their home, the lender executes a satisfaction of mortgage and a lien release, thereby relinquishing their claim against the property in exchange for the payment. A lien release is also signed by the builder when a new home is being constructed and the final bill has been paid. This releases the builder from all further obligations and transfers clear ownership to the new owner.

Types of Loans that Require Liens

  • Traditional mortgages, USDA loans, FHA loans, VA loans, home equity lines of credit, home equity loans, and other types of loans

Any sort of loan that is secured by real estate normally necessitates the provision of a voluntary lien on the property by the loan applicant in order to qualify for the loan. In addition to real estate loans, business loans, such as those for equipment, can be secured by liens against specified business property, such as equipment.

Types of Loans that Don’t Require Liens

  • Personal loans, unsecured lines of credit, student loans, medical debt, and credit cards are all examples of debt.

Unsecured loans, in contrast to mortgages, are not backed by any property, which is why they are referred to as unsecured. In addition, creditors are often not permitted to foreclose on specific property in order to reclaim their money, even if certain of these liabilities (such as school loans) are difficult to discharge in bankruptcy.

Types of Liens

Being aware of the sort of lien a creditor has is critical in determining how to deal with the lien during a bankruptcy proceeding. This might be perplexing, especially if the creditor has a non-consensual lien on you, which means that you did not consent to the lien being placed against you. Here’s a primer on the several sorts of liens you can come into. (“Dealing With Liens in Bankruptcy” cytopic section has information on how to get rid of some of these liens through bankruptcy.”

Voluntary Liens

A voluntary lien is established when you agree to provide a lender, such as a mortgage or auto loanlender, an interest in your property in exchange for the lender providing security for a loan on your behalf. In exchange for giving further assurance that they will receive their money back, creditors are more likely to give you money if you file a voluntary lien. Consider the following scenario: you acquire a home and take out a mortgage, and you voluntarily transfer ownership of the property to the lender.

Non-Consensual Liens

A non-consensual lien, like a voluntary lien, is an interest in your property that is issued to a creditor in order to collect on a debt that you owe. There is a distinction in that a non-consensual lien is one that was obtained by the creditor unwillingly, or without your consent. The majority of non-consensual liens come into play after you have failed to meet a financial commitment that was not normally considered to be secured.

How Are Non-Consensual Liens Created?

There are two types of non-consensual liens: those that are formed by statute and those that are created by a court of competent jurisdiction. Liens created by statute. Statutory liens are non-consensual lien rights that are awarded by statute rather than by agreement. Liens imposed by a court of law. Judicial liens are those that are created as a consequence of a court order. No matter what the reason for the lien is, it can obscure the title to your house, cause problems with the sale of your property, cause your bank account to become overdrawn, cause your paycheck to be reduced, and, in some cases, cause your home to be sold to settle the obligation owed to the creditor.

Statutory Liens

A statutory lien is a legal obligation that is formed by federal or state legislation. The type of property that is affected is determined by the lien that is attached to it. In the event that a lien is placed on property, it grants the creditor a secured interest in the property, which the creditor may pursue and sell in order to settle the debt. Here are just a few examples of statutory liens that are commonly seen.

Tax Liens

To collect delinquent taxes, the federal and state governments have enacted legislation that allows taxing agencies to place liens on your property. The prerequisites for converting an unpaid unsecured tax liability into a tax lien are spelled forth in the legislation that establishes the lien rights and might differ significantly from one state to the next, depending on the state. Typically, liens for unpaid real estate taxes attach to, or become tied to, just the property for which the tax was owing, and not to any other property.

Mechanic’s Liens

The majority of states have some sort of mechanic’s lien law. These liens are placed on your property if you have had work done on it but have failed to pay for it. If you had your roof fixed or replaced but did not pay for it, you might end up with a mechanics lien against your home. The sort of work for which a mechanics lien is authorized is often defined in some way in the legislation that govern mechanics liens. The statutes also usually outline the processes that must be followed in order to enforce a mechanical lien, as well as the procedures that must be followed in order for the property owner to oppose the lien if the work was not completed or if there was a fault with the work.

Condominium Association Liens

Condo liens are sometimes referred to as statutory liens, albeit the definition differs from state to state. The same is true for liens against homeowners’ associations. For further information, consult with an attorney in your area.

Landlord Liens

Leasing agreements in many states include provisions for landlord liens, which allow the landlord to reclaim unpaid rent. In most cases, they are used in commercial or company leases and provide the landlord the right to place a lien on the business equipment and inventory if the rent is not paid on time. The landlord’s lien rights are frequently subject to stringent restrictions that must be completed before the landlord can use his or her rights.

Judicial Liens

Judicial liens are created as a result of a court action of some kind. State and federal laws frequently provide a legal basis for judicial liens and specify the types of property to which they attach as well as the procedures that must be followed in order to enforce judicial liens; however, judicial liens are not considered statutory liens because they are only granted through judicial action.

Here are a few instances of judicial liens that are commonly seen.

Judgment Liens

Judgment liens are permitted in every state. You must record a certified copy of your judgment in a public registry before your judgment may be enforced as a lien against property in many states. Consult with an attorney in your region to learn about the necessary processes in your jurisdiction.

Garnishment or Attachment Liens

Any person who has been issued with a garnishmentor attachment order can attach a lien on your money or property if they are in possession of your money or property. They are frequently employed in the seizure of bank accounts or paychecks. Ordinarily, these sorts of orders are used to collect debts after a judgment has been rendered against you in a court of law. The lien remains in place until the court determines whether the creditor can use your money or property to pay down the judgment or if the judgment should be released to you and you receive your money or property back.

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Child Support Liens

In many places, a custodial parent can acquire a lien against your property in order to collect past-due child support payments that have been mandated by a court of law.

What is a Lien? Types of Property Liens Explained

If you’ve had a lien filed on your house or property, or if you’re hearing about liens for the first time, we’re here to help you understand what they are and how they work. We discuss mechanics liens on a regular basis, and we’ve covered the subject from every viewpoint. We should take a step back and return to the fundamentals of our discussion: What precisely is a lien, and how does it work? Is there a difference between them? And what is the impact of one on the other? This essay will cover all you need to know about liens, as well as how to avoid getting caught in one.

What is a lien?

L’expression lien (pronounced likelean) comes from the Latin word ligare, which literally translates as “to tie together.” Given that the objective of a lien is to tie or otherwise encumber the title to a property, this makes perfect sense. But let’s take a step back and look at the definition of a lien as it is now written. According to US law —11 USC 101(37)— the term “lien” refers to a charge against or interest in real property that is used to guarantee the payment of a debt or the fulfillment of a contractual obligation.

When a lien is filed against a piece of property, the title to the item is basically “clouded.” The lender or prospective buyer will do a title search on the property if it is being considered for refinancing, selling, or any other type of transfer.

No one likes to take on a property that has liens filed against it, and that includes lenders.

In this case, they are not following the property owner individually, but rather the actual property itself.

Please keep in mind that for the sake of this essay, we will only discuss property liens. There are several different forms of liens, including artisanal liens, aviation liens, attorney’s liens, mineral liens, and even cattle liens, among others.

Basic categories of liens

Every form of lien will fall into one of these two fundamental classes or a mixture of the two. In this category are general and particular liens as well as voluntary and involuntary liens (also referred to as consensual and no-consensual liens). A generic lien is one that does not attach to a specific piece of collateral and is therefore more general in nature. Instead, it attaches itself to the borrower’s whole portfolio of assets. This includes the borrower’s home, bank accounts, automobiles, and any other personal property that they may have at their disposal.

A particular lien, on the other hand, is a lien that is attached to a specific asset.

As part of a particular lien, the asset was explicitly offered as security as part of the loan or credit transaction.

They are unable to pursue any unrelated assets that the borrower may own, as they would be able to do with a broad lien.

Voluntary vs. involuntary

Liens can be either voluntary or involuntary in nature. This distinction is quite straightforward. The owner of the property must have given his or her approval or willingly agreed to have a lien put against the property. A voluntary lien is a lien that is employed when the owner has given their agreement to the use of the lien. It may appear strange, given that no one ever requests a lien against their property. However, if you use a loan to fund the acquisition of a piece of real estate, you are deliberately granting the lender the right to place a lien on the property.

A mortgage is arguably the most well-known sort of voluntary lien since it is so widely used.

Involuntary liens, on the other hand, are those that are put on a property by someone other than the property owner with the owner’s agreement.

Types of property liens

Landlords and tenants can file liens against two main categories of property: real estate and personal property. Real estate comprises land as well as any things that are permanently tied to the land, such as a house. In the financial world, personal property refers to assets that may be moved around. This can include everything from automobiles to animals to boats to equipment to furniture. In the case of a car, a title lien is the most prevalent sort of lien on personal property, and it is utilized when someone loans money to acquire the vehicle.

Given that real estate is often the most valuable asset that a debtor possesses, it will be the first type of property that a creditor would normally pursue with a lien against the debtor’s property. The sorts of liens that can be utilized against real estate are discussed in further detail below.

Tax liens

In the United States, lien filings can be made against two separate categories of assets: real estate and personal belongings. Land and any assets that are permanently tied to the land, such as a house, are considered real property. Moveable assets, often known as personal property, encompass almost anything that can be moved: automobiles, animals, boats, equipment, and so on and so forth. Probably the most frequent sort of lien on personal property is a title lien, which may be obtained when someone loans money to buy a car.

Given that real estate is often the most valuable asset that a debtor possesses, it will be the first type of property that a creditor would normally pursue with a lien on the debtor’s property.

Mortgage liens

When a bank loans money to a homeowner for the purpose of purchasing or refinancing a property, the lender creates an amortization lien as security. Mortgages are “secured loans,” which means that they are backed by a lien on the property. This implies that the borrower undertakes to provide some kind of collateral to guarantee the loan in the event that they fail to make payments on time. When it comes to mortgages, the collateral is the actual property being loaned against. If a borrower fails to make payments on his or her mortgage, the lender may be able to seize control of the home and sell it to recover the outstanding debt.

Mechanics liens

Anyone working in the construction sector should be aware with the mechanics lien, which is the most crucial sort of lien to be familiar with. This type of lien is known as an involuntary particular lien, and it is generated by the exercise of statutory rights. Every state has legislation that grants construction enterprises and laborers the authority to file a mechanics lien against a building project. In the building or repair of real property, mechanics’ liens can be created when a contractor, material supplier, equipment lessor, or other sort of professional offers services for the construction or repair of the property.

Due to the fact that they are statutory liens, there are certain notification requirements and dates that must be satisfied in order to protect these rights.

Every state establishes a deadline for the expiry of mechanics’ liens.

UCC liens

When it comes to business transactions, the UCC (Standard Commercial Code) is a collection of uniform laws that apply throughout all 50 states and even beyond state boundaries. Anyone who loans money to another party can file a UCC filing, also known as a UCC lien, with the Secretary of State, which establishes a claim on a specific piece of real or personal property until the debt is repaid in full by the other party. Unsecured commercial credit (UCC) liens are voluntary specified liens that are most commonly utilized when lending money that will not be used to acquire a specific asset, particularly when the borrower does not have a solid credit history.

In the United States, a UCC lien can be issued against both real and personal property. Creditor and borrower will normally review a list of assets at the time of the loan and agree on which piece(s) of property will be covered by the UCC filing at the time of the loan.

Judgment liens

A judgment lien is a legal claim that arises as a direct result of a lawsuit. Those who are involved in a lawsuit and are unsuccessful will be awarded damages in the form of a monetary judgment by the court. As a result, the defendant is referred to as a “judgment debtor,” while the plaintiff is referred to as a “judgment creditor.” The lien is based on the decision itself, which serves as its foundation. If the judgment creditor does not receive payment, he or she may be able to place a lien on the debtor’s property.

If the underpaid contractor takes legal action to collect on their claim, a mechanics lien might turn into a judgment lien.

How creditors collect payment through a lien

If a lienholder wishes to enforce their claim to payment, they can do so by filing a foreclosure case in the appropriate court. What this means is that the collateral used to secure the debt will be seized and sold to satisfy the obligation. The revenues of the sale will be used to pay off the liens against the property after it has been sold.

Lien priority

When a property is foreclosed, there is only a certain amount of money available to distribute among all of the creditors. So what happens if the sale price does not pay the total amount of liens against the property? It is at this point that the concept oflien priority comes into play. Priority is determined by a set of standards that differ from state to state. The sort of lien and the date on which it was filed will decide the order in which payments are made — in other words, who receives payment first.

  1. Then, in most cases, mortgage liens will be paid off next.
  2. When there are numerous mechanics lien claims, there are typically two approaches to decide priority: either first-to-file or equal priority, depending on the circumstances.
  3. However, the equal priority criterion is followed by a significant number of other nations.
  4. In these states, claimants will all be given equal priority and will be divided equally among the residual revenues (in proportion to the amount of their legal claim).


Liens are debts that have been secured. When dealing with a debtor who has filed for bankruptcy, it is critical to remember this. The discharge or cancellation of a significant portion of their outstanding debt is common during a bankruptcy procedure, particularly a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A secured debt is one of the very few categories of debt that may survive a bankruptcy filing.

The bankrupt party will be compelled to sell some (non-exempt) assets in order to pay off the secured obligations owed to the secured creditors. Find out more:Can a Mechanics Lien be used to secure a debt in bankruptcy?

How to remove a lien from the property

Liens are disliked by all parties (who would like to be paid in the first place). However, if a lien has already been issued against your property, your alternatives are more limited – but your options are not completely out of the question. There are still a few procedures a property owner may take to get a lien removed from their property title.

Pay off the debt

As apparent as it may seem, paying your debts is the most effective approach to get a lien removed from your property. Once the obligation has been paid in full, the lienholder will normally be compelled to have the lien removed from the property. Typically, to have a mechanics lien discharged after it has been paid, the claimant must submit an alien release or lien cancellation with the clerk’s office or the recorder’s office, depending on where the lien is required to be recorded by law in your state.

Dispute the lien

Just because a lien has been filed against a piece of real estate doesn’t imply it’s legal in every case. It is not the responsibility of the county recorder’s office to decide whether a lien claim is legal (although they often attempt to). The claim will be registered against the property as long as the claimant complies with all applicable filing requirements. In the event that a lien claim is found to be invalid, the property owner will have a few choices. One option is to simply wait it out.

  1. It’s also possible to force their hand if that’s something that’s accessible in your state.
  2. If a claim is filed and forwarded to the lienholder, the lienholder will only have 60 days to bring the claim to court.
  3. The government may decide to enforce it if it is found to be valid.
  4. They will be able to present evidence at trial to show why the claim should not be enforced.

Bonding off a lien

A lien bond, in particular for mechanics liens, can be a valuable tool in removing the lien from the title to a piece of real estate. When a lien is issued against a property, the owner can choose to have the lien discharged by submitting a surety bond in its place. Bonding off the lien is the term used to describe this process. This does not mean that the claim is no longer valid. Rather, it alters the nature of the collateral used to secure the debt. It serves as a replacement for the actual property in the form of a lien release bond.

When a claim is bonded off, it retains its validity and integrity, but it will be enforced against the bond rather than against the property.

Avoiding a lien in the first place

The majority of liens may be avoided by simply making regular payments on your invoices, which includes your tax obligations. However, in the case of mechanics’ liens, things might get a little more difficult than they appear. The contracts and subcontracts that make up a construction project are complicated. Sometimes the property owner is completely unaware of who else is working on the project or whether or not they are getting compensated. Even if you make all of your payments to the General Contractor on schedule, it is possible that the GC will fail to pay a subcontractor.

This is where the concept of lien waivers comes into play.

In exchange for payment, these companies agree to forgo that amount of lien rights on the project.

If you’d want to learn more about this procedure, check out: How to Handle TrackingRequesting Lien Waivers.

Consider what you can do to avoid mechanics lien claims and to preserve your property title free and clear before you begin a building project.

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