What is a Lien in Connecticut?
A Connecticut lien is a legal right or claim against a property. It gives an individual or company the right to someone else's property to satisfy an unpaid debt. Many situations can result in debt, like taking out a mortgage, car loans, etc. Typically, when a person takes a loan to purchase an asset, the lender may want more than a signature as leverage to guarantee payments. By completing some documents, the lender becomes a lienholder on the property.
Liens also form part of public records to inform third parties of existing claims on the property, and it will be impossible to sell the property until the lien agreement is satisfied and the title of the property is clear. While it is the responsibility of the lender to collect their payment from the debtor, liens can be enforced a court orders issued by Connecticut courts in various judicial districts.
Types of Lien in Connecticut
There are different types of liens in Connecticut, but they are generally categorized as general or specific and voluntary or involuntary.
A lien is general when it is not attached to a particular item or asset. This means that the lienor will be able to collect the debt with any or all of the debtor's assets in case of a default. In contrast, a specific lien is tied to a particular asset. This means that the lienor can only recover the particular item mentioned in the agreement.
Liens can also be classified as voluntary and involuntary. A lien is voluntary when the lienee agrees to have it placed on a property. Essentially, voluntary or consensual liens result from a loan or advance of credit. A common example is a residential mortgage, or a purchase-money security lien, which arises when a debtor uses credit obtained from a lender to buy property, e.g., a car loan.
A lien is involuntary when placed without the lienee's consent. They usually result from the provisions of state laws. An example is a judgment lien on a person's real property under section 52-380a of the Connecticut General Statutes. The foreclosure statistics analyzed all the cases that were filed in 2017. The common types of liens filed in Connecticut are judgment liens, mechanics' liens, tax liens, and mortgage liens.
What is a Property Lien in Connecticut?
A property lien is a legitimate claim on properties to collect a debt. This lien gives creditors access to a debtor's property upon a payment default. A property lien must be filed and licensed by the county recorder's office or state department. It is then forwarded to the property owners, telling them that action has been taken to claim the property. A lien on a property notifies others that the property owner is in debt. Property liens are typically attached to real estate, but they may also be attached to personal property in some instances. Tax liens, mortgage liens, UCC liens, mechanics' lien, and judgments lien are the types of property liens in Connecticut.
How Do You Know if a Property Has a Lien in Connecticut?
Once there is a voluntary lien on a property, the property owner is often aware of it since the lien agreement is established with their knowledge and consent. However, determining an involuntary lien can get tricky because the searcher must locate the specific agency in charge of those records. Persons interested in finding this information must make inquiries at the appropriate office.
If the person searching for property lien records is the lienee, they ought to have gotten notice of the lien at the time of filing the lien. Again, it is possible to only discover a lien at the point of sale, transfer, or refinance the property. However, a lienee will not know of the lien's existence if the person changed address or received a notification of the lien at a different address.
The best way to find out if a person's property, like a house, land, or building, has a lien is to run a title deed search. This will reveal who the actual owner of a property is and if anybody other than the owner has a claim over the property. Prospective real estate buyers are advised to hire a title company or a real estate lawyer to conduct a thorough search on a property before buying.
How Do I Check for Liens in Connecticut?
Liens are public record in Connecticut. Hence, interested persons may visit any relevant government agency responsible for keeping these records to search for them. For example, the Plainville Town Clerk's office maintains a computer index of property records in the town, dating back to 1989.
The town clerk's office is the records management center for the town. It makes land records, licenses, and other documents relating to land transactions in the town. Interested persons may visit the office at Plainville Municipal Center, One Central Square, Plainville, CT 06062 between 8:00 am to 4:00 pm from Mondays to Wednesdays, 8:00 am to 7:00 pm on Thursdays, and 8:00 am to 12:00 pm on Fridays. SFor further inquiries, suchpersons may also call the office oat860) 793-0221.
Counties like Windsor have a similar procedure. Interested persons may visit the Windsor Town Clerk's Office during regular hours to determine if a property has a lien in a town like Windsor. The office, located at 275 Broad Street, Windsor, CT 06095, opens from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on Mondays to Thursdays, and 8:00 am to 1:00 pm on Fridays. Interested persons do not need an earlier appointment as the town clerk's office is open to the public.
Alternatively, persons may search through the online index maintained by the Windsor town clerk of all land records and maps in Windsor from 1640 till date. While searchers may view information on liens through the online portal, the actual document can only be accessed at the town clerk's office.
Liens in all other counties in Connecticut, can be found by visiting the county clerk's office, or checking the county website.
Free Lien Search in Connecticut
All government agencies in Connecticut that maintain land records also allow for free lien searches by members of the public. Interested persons may visit the office of such an agency or use an online search tool if one is available. The search is free, but the searcher may pay minor fees for photocopying and certification.
What is a Tax Lien in Connecticut?
A Connecticut tax lien is a statutory claim placed on a piece of real property when the owner defaults or refuses to settle a tax bill. A tax lien secures the government's interest on all assets, including personal property and financial assets. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the agency that issues federal tax liens, first assesses the liability then sends the taxpayer a notice and payment demand. If the owner refuses to pay on time, a public document will be filed notifying creditors that the government has a right to the property. This covers all forms of taxes, including payroll taxes, corporate taxes, and land taxes. Usually, tax liens do not end in foreclosure. Most times, it is placed on the property to expedite payment. In a property's foreclosure, a tax lien is settled first before others.
What is a Mortgage Lien in Connecticut?
A Connecticut mortgage lien is a financial claim on a property that acts as tangible security for a mortgage. When there is a default, the lien allows the lender to take ownership of the property and auction it to reclaim an outstanding debt. A voluntary lien enables the mortgagee to sell the property or refinance the mortgage as long as there is no default in the installment payments. Mortgage liens are specific and limited only to the mortgaged property.
What is a Mechanics Lien in Connecticut?
Mechanics' liens in Connecticut are legal tools providing unpaid skilled workers with an opportunity to receive payment for service rendered towards a property's construction. Mechanics' liens arise when a contractor, supplier, or equipment lessor renders services for the construction or repair of real property and does not get paid. Upon a default in payment, the individual or company can file a lien against the property being improved. Although the mechanics' lien is similar to a property lien, it is different because while the property lien is a general lien, a mechanics' lien is specific. An artisan needs to prove beyond doubt that the service rendered was beneficial to the property.
What is a UCC Lien?
The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) regulates business activities across American states. The UCC covers the sales of goods, shares, and other such negotiable instruments. Suppose anyone lends money to a businessman to fund the purchase of goods. In that case, the lender can submit a UCC filing claiming a specific item belonging to the business until the loan is repaid. As in other states, UCC liens are filed at the Secretary of State's office. It requires completing UCC forms with information about the debtor's identity and address and providing a description of the collateral.
What is a Judgment Lien?
A judgment lien is a form of civil right offered to creditors who, after a contract default, can claim a debtor's real property. Many judgment liens are non-consensual liens and result from previous litigation where the court ruled against one party for failing to meet a contract's terms. A judgment lien may be applied to a debtor's real estate: home, apartment, farm, or similar estates, or to the debtor's personal property: jewels, paintings, antiques, and other valuables. In Connecticut, the laws mandating judgment liens permit the creditor to register the judgment with the county clerk where the debtor has or may own real estate in the future.
Voluntary Lien Vs. Involuntary Lien in Connecticut?
A voluntary lien is a lien where a property owner puts up an asset as collateral for obtaining a loan. If a debtor fails to make regular contributions, the property with the associated lien may be confiscated. It is mostly so with mortgage liens. On the other hand, involuntary liens are imposed on a property without the owner's consent. For instance, if taxes are not paid, a judge or another administrative body may impose a lien on a piece of real estate. A tax lien is an excellent example of an involuntary lien.
How Creditors Collect Payment Through a Lien
To recover money through a lien, a creditor must first file a lien certificate with the town clerk in the Connecticut town where the debtor has real property, like land. For personal property liens, the creditor may file with Connecticut's Office of the Secretary of State. Since a creditor who records a lien has a legal right over the property in question, such a person may repossess the property. Alternatively, the creditor may sell off the property to recover the debt sum.
How Do I Get a Lien Removed in Connecticut?
Persons who have liens on their property are at risk of losing the property. So, it is important to assess the validity of the lien and take action to get it removed. Some of the available options a debtor may take to get a lien removed are:
- Pay off the debt
- Get the lienholder to sign a release form
- Ask for a lien waiver
- Ensure that the debt the lien represents is valid
For instance, to release a judgment lien, section 52-380d of the Connecticut General Statutes provides that the lienholder, the lienholder's attorney, or a personal representative who signed the certificate of lien may issue a written instrument discharging the judgment lien. Then, the town clerk that recorded the lien shall acknowledge the release and index it accordingly. In the case of personal property, a statement of release must be presented to the office of the Secretary of State for filing and indexing.
How Long Does a Lien Stay on Your Property in Connecticut?
The duration that a lien stays on a property in Connecticut depends on the type of lien applied to the property. If a person took out a mortgage, it is a voluntary lien and attaches to the property until the debt is repaid or the creditor moves to foreclose the property. In the case of an involuntary lien like a judgment lien, the lien is good for twenty years from the day of filing unless there is an action to foreclose it within that time frame.