What is a Lien in Missouri?
A lien in Missouri is a charge against personal or real property to ensure the payment of a debt or the fulfillment of duty. Liens can be general or specific; liens can also be voluntary or involuntary. A general lien applies to any or all of the debtor's assets, while a specific lien applies to a debtor's particular asset. A voluntary lien requires the debtor's consent, while an involuntary lien is imposed on the debtor. In this case, the debtor is the lienee or lessee, while the other party with the lien's benefit is the lienor or lessor.
There are different types of liensin Missouri. They include tax liens, mortgage lien, mechanic lien, judgment lien, etc. In Missouri, creditors can file a lien claim with the state's Circuit Courts, which have jurisdiction over all matters concerning liens in the state. Missouri courts also issue the judicial orders that creditors require to enforce a lien within state limits.
Are Liens Public Record in Missouri?
In Missouri, liens are considered public records accessible to the public. Once a lien is filed or recorded, interested persons may access it by querying the custodians office. In Missouri, this is the County Recorder’s Office and the county clerk's office in the jurisdiction where the property is situated.
Types of Lien in Missouri
In Missouri, a creditor can record various types of liens against a debtor's property; this includes mortgage liens, tax liens, judgment liens, UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) liens, and mechanic liens. These liens can be attached to the debtor's personal properties (such as real estate and automobiles), settlement awards, child support, and more. Liens usually result from debts and ensure that an individual repays a loan or satisfies a financial obligation.
Liens are also categorized as either voluntary or involuntary and specific or general.
A voluntary lien is established following a signed agreement between a lender and a borrower. In Missouri, a good example of voluntary liens are mortgages. This type of lien results from an individual's agreement with a bank. Inversely, state and federal statutes and law operations primarily give rise to involuntary liens.
Missouri liens are also either general or specific. General liens are typically attached to all personal properties owned by a debtor in the state. General liens provide a lender (the lienholder) with legal claims to any property a debtor (the lienee) owns in the state. As implied, a specific lien is attached to a particular property a lienee owns in the state. If the loan is not repaid or financial obligation is not satisfied, affected properties are sold or seized. For example, the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR), is responsible for placing liens on a state resident's personal property for failing to pay state taxes. These liens are both involuntary and general and may be placed on property owned by the delinquent taxpayer. The DOR can seize or auction out a liened property and sell it to satisfy an outstanding debt.
How Do I Check for Liens in Missouri?
Once a lien is recorded in Missouri, it is considered public record information. Relevant government offices/agencies can be contacted or visited in person to check for liens in the state.
County clerk/recorder offices maintain records of title deeds of properties in their specific county. These records contain all liens that have been filed against properties in a particular county. Some of these offices provide remote access to these records through their official website. An inquirer can also visit these offices in person to request a title deed search and obtain copies.
Some county clerk/recorder websites also feature request forms. Requestors may send these forms to relevant offices to request copies of records. A general index useful for verifying liens are also provided in most county recorder offices websites.
The DOR Tax Liens Finder can also be used to check for certificates of liens that have been filed with the DOR. An inquirer can either search for these certificates by their case number or the debtor's name.
Free Lien Search in Missouri
In Missouri, government agencies/offices responsible for processing filed liens, such as the DOR and county recorders offices, provide free lien search services to the public. An inquirer can query relevant government agencies at their physical locations or opt to use online search services provided by these agencies/offices. Information obtained using these free search services includes the lienee's and lienholder's names and addresses, the lien filing date, status of the liens (active, released, or expired), etc. However, the records obtained from these search tools may not contain the complete information of official records. Hence, an inquirer may need to visit relevant agencies/offices in-person to review complete official records.
What is a Property Lien in Missouri?
The laws that govern a property lien in Missouri make it legitimate for a creditor to claim a debtor's property if loans are not repaid or if obligations remain unfulfilled. A property lien can be placed on all physical assets: lands, buildings, cars, equipment, machinery, and other forms of real or personal property. Examples of property liens include:
- Mortgage liens
- Mechanics' liens
- Judgment liens
- Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) liens
- Tax liens
A property lien must be registered with the county recorder's office or the state department. It is then forwarded to the property owners in simple terms, informing them that legal action has been taken to recover the property. A lien on property alerts others that the owner is in debt. The Missouri law in Chapter 429.010.2 does not permit a lien against a rental property unless:
- There is an improvement made on the property.
- The claim (debit or promise of obligation) is worth more than $5,000.00
- The claimant can notify the actual owner of the equipment or machinery at least fifteen days before the lienee uses such equipment.
How Do You Know if a Property Has a Lien in Missouri?
Voluntary liens are created as a result of the actions of an individual. Hence, homeowners are usually aware of voluntary liens. However, involuntary liens are filed with separate agencies, making its discovery somewhat tricky.
An inquirer would have to query the appropriate offices/agencies where the lien was filed to receive information regarding a lien of interest. In Missouri, these agencies/offices include the DOR and county recorder offices around the state. The information gotten from a county recorder's office records or the DOR is usually specific to that county and liens filed in that agency.
A notice of lien is usually sent to a property owner when a lien is attached to their property. These notices inform the property owner of the lien being placed on their property. Property owners may also discover the encumbrance later when trying to sell, transfer, or refinance a liened property. The Missouri case net page may be useful for finding liens that the DOR filed. Inquirers may mail the completed 4803 (request for information) form to the DOR Motor Vehicle Bureau to receive information on motor vehicle tax liens at:
Motor Vehicle Bureau
P.O. Box 100
Jefferson City, MO 65105-0100
Requestors can also query the county's recorder office where their property is located to run a title deed search on their property. Hiring a real estate attorney or title company may also help conduct thorough searches. Getting title insurance for a property would protect against an unknown lien and losses that it attracts.
Property Lien Search by Address in Missouri
When a property lien is recorded, which is a formal claim issued against property giving the holder access to the property in the event of nonpayment of a debt, it is regarded as public information. An individual may conduct a property lien search by address in Missouri at:
- Recorder of Deeds office: Property Lien searches in Missouri can generally be conducted at the Recorder of Deeds office online or in person. For instance, in St. Louis County, individuals have two options for conducting their searches: either using the Deed Search Remote Access Solutions which provides third party websites for searching for property liens; or making an appointment to visit the Recorder of Deeds offices in person. A lien or deed search cannot be carried out on someone else's behalf by employees of the Recorder of Deeds. However, these searches are generally conducted by name and not address
- Title Companies: Because title companies have comprehensive knowledge of properties depending on their location, record seekers may decide to pay for their services.
Free Property Lien Search by Address
Individuals seeking to perform a free property lien search in Missouri may do so by visiting the Recorder of Deeds office website of the county where the property is located. These counties provide free property lien search tools through third party websites.
What is a Tax Lien in Missouri?
A tax lien in Missouri is a legal claim against a person's or entity's property for failure to pay taxes to the government. The government's interest in all properties, including personal property and financial assets, is covered by a general lien. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assesses the debt and gives the owner notice and a petition for payment. If the debtor refuses to pay on time, a public record notifying creditors of the government's claim to the property is filed. This includes all kinds of taxation, including payroll taxes, corporate taxes, and property taxes. In most situations, a tax line does not end in foreclosure. It's usually put on the property to speed up the payment process. When a house is foreclosed, the tax lien on the property is settled first, followed by the other liens.
Tax Lien Lookup in Missouri
The circuit court and the recorder of deeds in the county where the person or company is located issues certificates of liens against unpaid property taxes owed by individuals or businesses. An individual can use the case number or debtor's name to conduct a search for a certificate of tax lien. Either the number assigned by the circuit clerk or the number assigned by the recorder of deeds may be used when doing a case number search. The Missouri Department of Revenue website also offers a Tax Lien Search service which enables individuals to lookup certificates filed by the organization.
What is a Mortgage Lien in Missouri?
A mortgage lien is a financial claim on real estate that serves as collateral for a loan. When there is a payment default, the lien allows the lender to take possession of the property and sell it off to recoup the debt. A mortgage lien is voluntary and allows the mortgagee to sell the property or refinance the loan when the payments are not made on time. Mortgage liens are specific in that they only apply to the property that has been mortgaged.
What is a Mechanics Lien in Missouri?
Missouri mechanics liens are created by legislative rights and are involuntary and specific. As stated in the Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 429.010, a mechanics' lien is a legal instrument that gives an unpaid party a secured interest in a debtor's property. The mechanics' lien law places the contractor at an advantage to enforce payment for services rendered.
The laws make provision for anyone who performs labor or provides services to have a lien on the built or improved property, whether there is an expressed or implied contract, provided there is no waiver.
Missouri mechanics' liens must be filed within six months of the last day of delivering services or materials. They must be filed with the recorder of deeds of the county where the property is situated. The petitioner must also ensure that the mechanics' lien is notarized.
What is a UCC Lien?
The Uniform Commercial Code is a set of uniform rules that regulate commercial transactions in the United States. The Code creates a common legal and contractual framework that allows companies from different states to do business together. The policies are mainly based on small businesses and entrepreneur practices, which aim to clear up any uncertainty about how each state could regulate such operations separately.
The UCC code is divided into nine articles, all of which apply to product transactions, negotiable instruments, banks' liability, letters of credit, bill of lading, etc. The UCC lien, typically referred to as the UCC-1 statement, is a directive of the Uniform Commercial Code, which governs business deals and activities in the U.S. This lien allows creditors to file a legal notice that publicly asserts their right to seize properties from debtors in case of loan defaults. The ninth article of the UCC requires that a creditor incorporates the UCC-1 statement into a business loan contract for it to be considered adequate. The statement must include detailed information on the borrower and describe all assets that have been designated as the guaranteed collateral for the loan.
A UCC lien is a specific lien when the creditor is given rights to a particular asset. Most real estate transactions are specific. On the other hand, the UCC lien is a blanket lien when the creditor is given secured rights over a range of assets belonging to the debtor. These assets must be listed in the collateral section UCC-1 statement. A UCC lien should be filed with the Secretary of State in Missouri.
How to Conduct a UCC Lien Search
Individuals conducting a UCC lien search in Missouri may request for a lien search in person or visit the website of the Missouri Secretary of State online to conduct an online filings search. A formal request can be made by filing a UCC request form. The fees required for copies of the documents must be paid to the secretary of state's office at
Missouri Secretary of State
P.O. Box 1159
Jefferson City, MO 65102
What is a Judgment Lien in Missouri?
A Missouri judgment lien mandates the payment of a debt. A judgment lien can be attached to a debtor's real estate in Missouri. If the debtor's property is outside the county where the judgment was entered, the creditor must file the judgment lien with the county circuit clerk. Even if the debtor's property changes hands, a judgment lien is attached to the property for ten years. Although a judgment lien guarantees the payment of a debt, it is limited by several factors:
- Homestead exemption: This is an exemption of a house that is the debtor's primary residence.
- Other liens in place
- Foreclosure as a result of bankruptcy proceedings
What is a Federal Tax Lien
A Federal Tax Lien is created as a result of a debtor's inability or unwillingness to pay the tax or bill sent by the Internal Revenue Service according to IRC § 6320. This is enacted in accordance with the federal law code 26 U.S. Code § 6321.
The federal tax lien gives the US government the right to possess a debtor's property until the federal taxes owed are paid. When the IRS records an individual's debt as unpaid, a statement outlining the individual's debt is sent, and if the individual neglects or refuses to pay the debt in full by the due date, a federal tax lien is created. The federal tax lien remains in effect until the assessed amount is paid in full or until the collection statute's expiration date has passed.The Service typically has 10 years following assessment to collect the tax liability.
What is a Lien Title?
A lien title is typically a car title or any other title to a property that has a lien placed against it by a bank which has an interest in the property as a result of it having been used as collateral for a loan. In order to assist pay off the debt, a lien holder may own or sell the vehicle or other property with a lien title. When a loan is repaid, a lien holder releases their claim on the title, resulting in a clean (no lien) title.
Where and How to Do a Title Search in Missouri
A title search determines based on a search of the public record, the property owner's rights. An individual may conduct a property title search in person in Missouri by visiting the Recorder of Deeds office where the property is located. Documents searched may include court records, property and name indices. Additionally, the seller's right to transfer ownership is verified, along with claims, defects or other rights that may affect the property. Conducting a property title search in person involves
- Identifying the property and locating the deeds: this may be done by
- checking the records of the Tax Assessor in the county where the property is located
- Searching online for the property deed
- Visiting the Recorder of Deeds office
- Having the chain of title confirmed
- Examining the property for liens, mortgages, judgments, or unpaid taxes
- Consulting a real estate lawyer about any financial limitations.
Voluntary Lien vs. Involuntary Lien in Missouri?
A voluntary lien is one that a person willingly accepts under the terms of a contract. Generally, mortgages are voluntary liens. A borrower receives money from a creditor, who gets a lien on the property as collateral for the mortgage. This gives the creditor the legal right to take ownership of the estate if the debtor cannot pay it back as agreed. In comparison, an involuntary lien is imposed on the debtor without the debtor's consent or permission. A typical example of an involuntary lien is a tax lien.
How Creditors Collect Payment Through a Lien
In Missouri, when a lien is attached to a debtor's personal property by their creditor (an owed party), these individuals would have a legal claim on that property. As a result, a creditor can force the sale of that property to satisfy the lien or pursue other legal actions against the property owner.
How Do I Get a Lien Removed in Missouri?
Once a lien has been perfected, it becomes resilient. However, a lien can only last until the debts have been paid or its statute of limitation elapses.
There are generally two methods an individual can use to get a lien removed from their properties in Missouri. The first method is to pay the debts owed willingly; these include any interest, fees, and penalties. It is also possible to negotiate a lesser payment with creditors. After these payments have been made, an individual can request that the lien should be removed from their affected property.
The second method involves challenging a lien validity in court. However, a lien may only be removed if the lienholder can not prove that the lien is legitimate.
How Long Does a Lien Stay on Your Property in Missouri?
In Missouri, the type of lien placed on an individual's personal property will determine how long the lien would remain on that property. Per section 443.185 of Missouri statutes, a mortgage lien can remain attached to a piece of property until the debt is repaid or ten (10) years pass.
Similarly, Involuntary liens are established by statutes that have a defined period of enforceable. Involuntary liens such as tax or UCC liens and judgments liens expire after ten (10) years from the date the lien was recorded. Meanwhile, a mechanic lien is valid for six months.