Since a variety of different circumstances can lead to the filing of a lien on your real estate, the mechanisms for fighting a lien also vary, depending on the situation. Many of the procedures for filing a lien allow the lien to be challenged before it becomes a legally valid and binding lien on your real estate. For instance, before anyone or any government entity places on a lien on your real estate, you must receive proper notice, which typically gives you a certain amount of time to take the steps necessary to fight the lien. In some cases, you can fight a lien through informal administrative procedures. In other cases, however, your only recourse may be to file a lawsuit or other type of action to prevent the lien from attaching to your property.
Similarly, each state's law outlines procedures for disputing liens, which may vary according to jurisdiction, as well as according to the type of lien at issue. In most cases, you must actually dispute the underlying claim that led to the lien in order to dispute the lien itself. Therefore, by challenging the amount of property tax assessed against your real estate, you are disputing the tax lien that can potentially be placed against your property. By disagreeing with a claim that you owe a contractor for services that were poorly or only partially performed, you are disputing a potential mechanic's lien on your real estate. Therefore, it is only by disputing the claim that gave rise to the potential lien that you can dispute the lien.
For instance, if the lien is the result of unpaid taxes, you will be able to satisfy the lien by either paying the taxes in full, or by entering into a payment plan with the governmental unit that assessed the taxes. Likewise, if a lien has been placed on your real estate due to a court judgment against you for a debt that you owe, you can satisfy the judgment by paying it in full, so that the creditor no longer can maintain a lien or claim against your property.
Getting a lien released typically occurs in one of two ways. First, if you satisfy the lien by paying the underlying debt in full, the creditor must execute a lien release that removed the lien from your property. Second, if a certain length of time passes, the lien will expire, and be automatically discharged or released. The exact length of time required for a lien to expire varies depending on the type of lien and the law of the state that applies to the lien.
If a lien has been placed on your real estate due to a disputed debt, you should immediately contact an attorney for assistance in disputing and/or releasing the debt from your real estate. It is only by dealing with the underlying debt that you will be able to have the lien released, and any disputed debt may involve complex litigation that necessitate an attorney's assistance.