At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What is a Lien Release?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill

A lien release is a document signed and filed by a court official stating that a lien has been lifted. In most cases, a lien is a note stating that a debt is owed that the loaner has stakes in a property until that debt is paid. Lien release papers can also be given to those who are not indebted if they own a property with liens against it from a previous owner.

Liens are documents filed with the court to provide collateral against a debt. For instance, if someone takes out a mortgage, the loaner or bank may have a lien against the house being purchased. This ensures that if the money is not repaid as required by the terms agreed upon, the bank can take possession of the house. A lien release would be signed by the bank when the loan was paid, and would state that they no longer had any claims to the property.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

Sometimes a lien release is needed by someone who did not owe the debt for which the lien was placed. For instance, if a lien was held against a home and the original owner loses the house due to defaulting on taxes, someone else may buy the home with the liens still in place. These would have to be lifted before the house could be sold again. To do this, the new owner would likely need to see a real estate attorney who would appeal to a judge for a lien release.

In some cases, a lien release may not be needed. A house purchase with liens against it, for instance, would be able to be sold ten years after the most recent lien was placed. This is because judgments and liens eventually expire if the person to whom the debt was owed does not come forward to stake his claim on a property.

Sometimes, even if the property owner does not technically owe the debt, a lien release may not be given. If this occurs, the owner may have to go to trial to try and force the parties placing the lien to have it removed. This could end in one of two ways. First, the lien may be lifted and the property is cleared. Secondly, the property’s owner may be forced to pay part of the former owner’s debt in order for the lien to be cleared.

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Businessman with a briefcase
      Businessman with a briefcase