There are several different types of liens that may be recorded against your home. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Tax Lien – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the county where your home is located may place a lien against your property for unpaid income tax or property tax.
- Mechanic’s Lien – An unpaid contractor or material supplier may place a lien on your property for work performed to improve your home or supplies delivered to your home.
- Judgment Lien – A court order giving the creditor the right to place a lien on your property for an unpaid debt.
- Homeowner Association Lien – A lien on your property for unpaid common or special assessments.
If the lien is valid, it is rarely in your best interest to do nothing.The creditor who places the above liens against your property also has the power to foreclose on your home in order to satisfy the debt. Further, having a lien recorded against your home may prevent a sale of your home or refinance of your mortgage.
The best option for having any of the above liens removed from your property is to settle the lien holder’s claim in exchange for a release of lien, and if applicable a satisfaction of judgment. If you do settle the lien holder’s claim, insist on receiving a copy of the release of lien or satisfaction of judgment to have for your records. Also, be sure that any credit agencies that were notified of the debt are also notified that the debt has been satisfied.
If you have reason to believe that the lien is not valid, then you should contact us to see if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit to file the lien. You may have a claim for a frivolous lien, or the basis for filing a quiet title action to have the lien removed.
In limited circumstances, it may be in your interest to leave the lien alone and challenge the creditor to take the next steps. For example, in Washington, if a contractor or supplier does not file a lawsuit to foreclose their mechanic’s lien, then the lien simply expires. Similarly, in Washington, if a judgment lien is not renewed after ten years, it will also expire. Expired liens should have no effect on your title.
Your home is often your largest and most revered asset. With that in mind, it is worth spending an hour or more with an attorney to ensure your home is safe and your title is clear. Please contact attorneys Seth Chastain (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Katie Comstock (email@example.com) to assist you.