If you discover that a lien has been placed on your property it would come in handy to know how to remove a lien. Am I right? Believe it or not, it’s not all that difficult. Here’s how to get the job done in case you find yourself in need.
1. If you really owe the money – pay it.
Liens can be placed against your property if someone claims you haven’t paid your debts. If you have paid the debt and there is still a lien, don’t worry. The remaining options will cure the problem.
But if you owe money and someone places on lien on your home, the best option is to pay it (assuming the lien was correctly placed on your home.) A person who has a valid lien on your home isn’t going to give up until you satisfy your debt. The lien is the best collateral she can ever get.
If you do owe the money and don’t have the cash, call your creditor and try to find a debt payment plan. If your creditor won’t budge, find an alternative source of funds to pay off the debt.
If you really do owe the money and want to get rid of the loan (but don’t have the cash right now) consider contacting peer-to-peer lender Lending Club. They put you together with investors who have the money to invest. Typically you’ll be able to borrow money at rates far lower than credit card companies charge.
2. If you don’t owe the money, get the case file from the courthouse.
The case file is full of critical information. It details who you owe the money to, why you have a judgment against you and how you were “served” with notice. Look for a defect in the lien. What are defects that defeat the lien?
- Improper service
- The service wasn’t timely
- The lien doesn’t correctly state the property owner’s name as reflected by the deed
If you review the case file and find any of these three problems, call or write the person who filed the claim and let them know. They may voluntarily remove the claim. These are all valid defenses. The court won’t allow the person with the claim to sue if any of these conditions exist.
Why is proper service so important?
The courts want you to have a fair shot at defending yourself. And if you weren’t served properly you don’t have that opportunity. If the other party didn’t play fair, the court isn’t going to play ball either. They’ll just dismiss the case against you and lift the lien.
But before you get to giddy, keep in mind that there are many ways you can be “served” with notice that does comply with the law.
- You can be handed the document.
- The document can be mailed to you or left at your residence.
- It can be left at any office or place you do business or where your agent is.
- The court could authorize notice to be given by publishing an advertisement in a general newspaper.
- Any other means the court deems sufficient.
As you can see, there are a host of different ways to be “served” with notice without really knowing it. The case file will tell you the method that was used to notify you of the lien. That’s why I want you to get that case file.
3. Affidavit of Payment
An Affidavit of Payment is a document your contractor signed acknowledging that you paid all the money that you owed. If you have such a document, the subcontractors can sue the contractor but they can’t sue you and they can’t place on lien on your property. If you have this document let the person who filed the claim know. They will probably cancel their claim as a result and lift the lien.
4. Buy Bonds
Another cool idea is to buy a bond to clear your title. Once you buy a bond, the claim will be against the insurance company and not your home.
Other ideas that take more than 72 hours.
The lien will spell out what action you have to take and the deadline to do so. Generally, you’re going to have to enter a written response by personally appearing in court or hire an attorney to do so for you. If you don’t provide a written response and give that response to the court, the case will proceed and you’ll likely end up with a valid lien against your property. That means the other party may sue you.
When you get a notice like this, the very first thing you should do is contact your lawyer. This is not something you want to do without professional help.
It’s important to have a basic understanding of how the process works. This will save you time and money when you work with your lawyer. But there is too much at stake to try to go this on your own in my opinion.
Let it Die
If a subcontractor places a lien against your home (called a “Mechanics Lien”) you have a lot more fire power. These liens disappear if the person who makes the claim doesn’t start a law suit within 12 months. So if the claim is completely bogus, you may indeed want to ignore it. The subcontractor won’t likely sue and the lien will go bye-bye.
Force the Issue
If someone slaps on lien on your home, file a “Notice of Contest” with the country real estate office. Then, mail it to the person making the claim. Once you do that they must either file a suit (against you or the contractor) or the lien will expire in 60 days.
Have you ever been slapped with a lien on your property? What happened? How did you resolve it?