Mortgage Lien Disputes

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What is a Mortgage Lien?

A mortgage lien is a type of legal claim initiated by a lender against a borrower’s property in the event that the homeowner is unable to keep up with mortgage payments.  If valid, a lien allows the mortgagor (usually a bank or mortgage lending institution) to take legal possession of the title to the person’s residential property. 

Mortgage liens are sometimes called real estate liens or simply, property liens.  Some liens are imposed by the court rather than the mortgage company; these are called “judicial liens” and may be difficult to challenge.   

What are Some Common Factors With Mortgage Lien Disputes?

Mortgage lien disputes typically arise in situations where the property has changed ownership several times, or if multiple mortgages are involved.  This can cause some confusion on the part of both the borrower and the lender.  Also, multiple mortgages may entail that the borrower is already experiencing financial troubles and is having difficulty meeting monthly payments.  Liens may also be connected with foreclosure alternatives.

And of course, the borrower may often have a legal dispute with the lender over the lien itself.  For example, some factors in a mortgage lien dispute may include:

Other mortgage lien disputes can involve different creditors and other parties who are trying to impose a lien claim against the same property.  An example of this is where a lien has been imposed by both a mortgagor and a construction company.

Is it Possible to Contest or Remove a Lien From Property?

There may be several different steps that the mortgage borrower can take to contest or remove a lien from their property.  These can include:

Also, sometimes the lender and borrower can work out specific terms in the mortgage contract which specify whether a lien can be imposed, and under which conditions.  Some jurisdictions allow for a lien waiver and release to be included in the mortgage contract. 

The waiver basically prevents the mortgage company from being able to file a lien against the property (the lender gives up their right to do so).  Instead, the company would have to find alternative measures for collecting the debt.  Lien waivers may not be available in all situations, as the mortgage provider would of course have to agree to such an arrangement. 

Do I Need a Lawyer if I’ve Been Involved in a Mortgage Lien Dispute?

Mortgage lien disputes are very serious matters and generally require the assistance of a qualified real estate attorney.  With a lien claim, there is the possibility that the borrower may lose title to their property.  However, working with a real estate attorney can help you understand your various options in terms of the mortgage and your home.  An experienced lawyer can assist you during court proceedings and may be able to help you with negotiations. 

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Last Modified: 11-15-2012 11:05 AM PST

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