Tampa Property Lien Lawyer
A lien is a security interest that attaches to a piece of property. While the lien is in place, the property owner won’t be able to sell the property with a free and clear title. Lienholders can wait patiently until the property is sold and then collect their debt. They can also move much more swiftly to foreclose on the property or force its sale in order to get what they are owed. Learn more below about different types of liens and how they are used. If you are a creditor looking to attach a lien or foreclose on a property, or if you are a real estate owner subject to a lien looking to understand your options, call the Seward Law Office in Tampa for advice and representation from a skilled and knowledgeable Tampa real estate lien lawyer.
The Home Mortgage – A Voluntary Lien
Not all liens are involuntarily imposed on a property owner; many are created willingly as a means to secure financing or a loan. A home mortgage might be the most common example. A buyer rarely has the funds to pay for a house in cash; instead, they get the money from a bank by taking out a mortgage on the house. The mortgage is a type of lien. It is a security interest held by the bank that is recorded at the County Clerk’s office along with the deed so that anybody conducting a title search will know the property is encumbered with a mortgage. The homeowner doesn’t own the home free and clear until the mortgage is paid off. If the homeowner sells the house while still owing on the mortgage, the bank will satisfy its mortgage with the sale proceeds, and the seller can take what is left.
Homeowners needing additional funds for home repairs or other expenses might take out a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). These junior mortgages also act as liens on the property.
Judgments and Involuntary Liens
Liens can also be attached to property against the wishes of the property owner. For instance, any party who wins a lawsuit for money damages becomes a judgment creditor, and one of the ways a judgment creditor can satisfy the judgment is by attaching a lien to the judgment debtor’s property. This doesn’t happen automatically after a judgment in a civil case; the holder of the judgment needs to bring a separate collection proceeding to have a court impose a lien or obtain a writ of attachment. Also, the lien needs to be recorded at the applicable recorder’s office, such as the Hillsborough Clerk of Court and Comptroller, so anybody conducting a title search would be on notice that the property is encumbered with a lien.
Another type of lien is the mechanic’s lien. When a homeowner hires a contractor to perform work on the home, such as repairs or renovations, the contractor might place what is known as a mechanic’s lien or materialman’s lien on the property to ensure that the contractor gets paid for the work performed and materials used. This lien is usually agreed to as part of the written contract for work. However, if the work isn’t performed to the owner’s satisfaction, the parties might wind up in court fighting over whether any money is owed and whether the lien can be executed. The Seward Law Office is practiced in contractor disputes and many other forms of real estate litigation in Tampa.
The government can also put a lien on property for unpaid taxes. This might be the state or county government attaching a lien for unpaid property taxes, or the IRS can impose a lien for other taxes as well. The government can foreclose on a property and sell it for back taxes. Sometimes, the bank or other lender who holds a mortgage on the property might pay the taxes to prevent foreclosure. However, they’ll add that amount to the mortgage, so the property owner will still be liable for paying it eventually. Finally, liens are also a tool that can be used to obtain unpaid child support or alimony.
Some Liens Take Priority Over Others
It is not uncommon for a property to be encumbered with multiple liens, such as a first mortgage, second mortgage, and home equity line of credit (HELOC or third mortgage). When the property gets sold, either voluntarily or through a forced sale or foreclosure, the creditors get paid before the seller does. Lienholders get paid in priority order, so the holder of a senior mortgage gets paid first, and junior mortgage holders only get paid if there is money left over after the lienholders in front of them are satisfied. Typically, priority goes in order of who recorded the lien first, but not always. For instance, tax liens might take priority over other liens that were previously recorded. Also, Homeowner Associations and Condominium Associations might get a lien for delinquent assessments, and these “super liens” can take a higher priority under Florida law.
Help With Liens and Property Issues in Tampa
For help with liens and property issues in Tampa, contact Seward Law Office at 813-252-6789 to speak with a skilled, knowledgeable and experienced real estate attorney.