How to Find a Lien on a Property

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In law, a lien is a form of security interest granted over an item of real estate to secure the payment of a debt or performance of some other obligation. The actual owner of the property is called the lienor, while the person or entity who has the right to benefit from the lien is called the lienee. Most jurisdictions give the lienee a passive right to benefit from the real estate item until the debt or any other obligation, which is subject of the matter, is discharged. However, the lienee does not have the right to sell the property.

Liens can be placed on a property for a number of reasons, for example if you do not pay the income tax or the property tax imposed on you, then the federal government can place a lien on the property you posses. Similarly, if you have your home renovated and a payment dispute arises after the renovation is complete, then the contractor can place a mechanic lien on the estate. For your amazement, even credit card companies can place liens on your real estate possessions, though they have to pursue a legal action in the court and get a judgement to be able to file a lien.

It is important to find out if there are any liens on a real estate item before buying, selling or having any other type of real estate transaction on it, since they can delay or prevent the deal from taking place. There are several methods to find a lien on a property. Go through the steps mentioned below to understand the process.

Contact your local tax assessor

The simplest way to check if there is a lien on a certain property is to get its complete address, including city and province name and go to the local tax assessor’s office. There you will meet a clerk who will guide you about checking the details on liens. Remember, the clerk cannot research the lien for you, they can only assist you about the procedure.

Find the relevant book

Different lien types are categorized in different books. For example all federal tax liens will be listed in one book while provincial tax liens are listed in a separate book. Similarly mechanic’s liens and creditor’s liens will be listed in separate books. You will have to research all the books to make sure that there is no lien placed on the subject property.

Note down all the information available pertaining to the lien

Once you find a lien, check which category it falls under. Also note down all the information mentioned in the book related to the lien, such as the name and address of the person who filed the lien, the amount of lien and the date when it was filed. If the lien has been paid off, there should be details pertaining to the lien’s release.

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