How do I Perform a Lien Check?

Erin J. Hill

There are various ways you may go about performing a lien check, including doing it yourself by checking with the county clerk’s offices or hiring an attorney to do it for you. Title information is generally publicly available and can be found online. There are benefits to hiring someone to do it for you, though, so you should explore all your options before settling on one.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

The best way to perform a lien check yourself is to visit your county or town’s website and check tax records and property information. If you do not know how to do this, contact someone with the county who may be able to give you advice on the best way to go about it. County records should show whether anyone other than the primary owner has any claims to a property. This method is beneficial because it generally doesn’t cost any money.

There are benefits to hiring an attorney to perform your lien check, so you should not rule it out as an option. When you do the title search yourself, you take the risk of missing something yourself and any consequences will be yours to deal with later. An attorney may be better able to recognize title issues and have access to more thorough property information. Additionally, if the attorney makes a mistake and you buy a property with liens against it, you may be able to get him to fix things for you rather than being stuck with a cloudy title.

If you believe that you may have liens against a property you already own, the best way to do a lien check is to contact your creditors to determine if there are still liens against the property in question. As a rule of thumb, if you are still making payments on something, the creditor will likely have a lien against it. This ensures that if you do not pay, they can take possession of the property.

For properties with liens from a past owner, you may have to hire an attorney to have them removed for you. You may also be able to wait until they expire, which often takes somewhere between five and 15 years. To find out rules and regulations regarding liens and property searches in your area, contact an attorney specializing in such matters or your local government officials.

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