How to Get a Lien Removed After Debt Is Fulfilled

A lien against your property is a pretty weighty strike against you. A lien is a matter of public record, allowing anyone to see that you have not paid your bills. Unfortunately -- and perhaps unfairly -- liens do not appear with any disclaimer or explanation. Worse still, liens are also reported to credit reporting agencies and can prevent your obtaining new credit for expenditures large and small. Consequently, paying off a debt for which a lien was recorded is a massive relief. After satisfaction, getting the lien removed is your first order of business.

Step 1

Get a lien release form from your county clerk's Office. Liens are filed with, and consequently removed by, the office of the county clerk.

Step 2

Fill out the form completely. You need to provide the basic identifying information for both the lienholder and yourself. The property description and address and the amount of the debt paid are also included.

Step 3

Find a notary public. Contact a bank, insurance office, post office or even a private shipping or mailbox facility.

Step 4

Get the lienholder to sign the form before a notary. This may be the tricky part. Even though you have satisfied the debt, releasing the lien may not be a priority for the lienholder. For a fee, the notary may be persuaded to travel to the office of the lienholder to witness signature. To bring the notary and the lienholder together may require persistence and flexibility. But remember, it's your credit record you're trying to salvage.

Step 5

File the form with the county clerk's office. Enclose any required filing fee. If you choose to mail the form, use certified mail for tracking purposes. For peace of mind, you may prefer to hand deliver the document. In any case, retain a copy of the release form for your own property-related files.

Tips

  • A tax lien might also be filed by the federal or state government. The IRS and most states automatically send you a lien release once you have satisfied the tax debt. You then file the lien release with the county clerk. If you do not receive the release within 30 to 60 days, contact the applicable tax authority.
  • If the lien is against your car, your lender typically sends you a satisfaction of debt letter once the loan is paid off. You then convey that document to your state department of motor vehicles to obtain a title document that lists your name alone as the owner.

Warning

  • Removing a lien is critical to maintaining clear title to your property. Clear title helps smooth the process of sale or transfer.

About the Author

D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.