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Getting a Lien Removed: Everything You Need to Know

Having a lien placed on your property can be stressful. Whether it’s a tax lien, mechanic’s lien, or other type, liens prevent you from selling or borrowing against your property. Fortunately, there are ways to get liens removed. This article explains everything you need to know, from how liens work, your rights, and the lien release process.

What is a Lien and How Do They Get Placed?

A lien is a legal claim against your property to secure repayment of a debt. Liens give creditors the right to seize and sell your property if you don’t pay. Common types of liens include:

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  • Tax liens – Placed by the IRS or state for unpaid taxes
  • Mechanic’s liens – Placed by contractors/mechanics for unpaid work
  • Child support liens – For overdue child support
  • Mortgage liens – Secures repayment of a mortgage loan

Liens get attached to your home, land, or other real estate you own. In some cases, liens may also be placed against valuable personal property like cars. Creditors don’t need a court order to file a lien in public records. All they need is a legal claim for money owed.

Finding Out If You Have Liens

Unfortunately liens can be placed without your knowledge. So it’s important to periodically check if you have any. Here’s how:

  • Order a title search – This will uncover liens attached to your real estate
  • Check your credit report – Any non-mortgage liens should show up here
  • Contact creditors – If you think you may owe taxes, child support etc., ask if they have placed a lien
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Finding liens early is key. It gives you more time to act before creditors start seizing your assets. Don’t ignore notices from the IRS or other creditors either. These often indicate intention to place a lien if debts remain unpaid.

Having a Lien Removed

To have a lien removed, you’ll need to:

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  1. Pay off the debt
  2. Get the creditor to release the lien
  3. Record the lien release

This releases their claim so the lien gets removed from your property’s title. Here’s more detail on each step:

Paying Off the Lien

You can’t just get a lien removed because you don’t like it. There must be a legal reason for its release. The most straightforward way is paying off whatever debt it secured:

  • Obtain payoff amount – Ask the creditor for the exact payoff number to release the lien. This may include late fees and interest.
  • Pay in certified funds – Send payment via certified check or money order. This guarantees you have proof of paying.
  • Get receipt – Request and keep a receipt as evidence you satisfied the debt.

Paying in full is the easiest way to get lien removal. But other options exist if you can’t afford to or dispute owing the amount.

Alternatives to Paying Off a Lien

If paying in full isn’t possible, alternatives like payment plans, debt reduction, or bankruptcy may help eliminate liens:

  • Payment plans – Some creditors let you pay off a lien over time. This works like an installment loan.
  • Debt reduction – You may negotiate a debt settlement for less than you owe. This can satisfy a lien.
  • Bankruptcy – Filing bankruptcy often eliminates many types of liens. But tax liens may still remain.
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Consult a consumer debt attorney to understand all your options. Laws like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act also give you certain rights when dealing with creditors.

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Getting the Lien Holder to Release

Once you’ve paid, ask the creditor to complete a lien release form. This formally removes their claim against your asset. If they drag their heels getting it done, you can:

  • Submit written requests by certified mail
  • Have an attorney send demand letters
  • File a court petition to force release

Most creditors cooperate with properly documented requests. If not, courts can order mandatory release after debt payment. This helps prevent illegal property seizures down the line.

Recording the Lien Release

The last step is getting evidence of the release into public records. This shows the world your property is free and clear. To record it:

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  1. Get the original release document
  2. Make 2-3 copies
  3. File with County Recorder or Clerk’s office
  4. Request file-stamped copy for your records

Official recording removes the lien from your title. So anyone who pulls a title search sees your property no longer has claims against it. Filing fees are usually under $20. Now you can finally relax knowing the lien is officially gone!

Avoiding Liens in the Future

Going through lien removal is stressful. Avoid repeats by:

  • Staying on top of debt payments
  • Not ignoring creditor notices
  • Periodically checking your credit and title
  • Maintaining good records

No one wants liens against their assets. But if one appears, now you know how to get rid of it. Pay off the debt, demand full release, and record evidence to regain clear ownership.

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