How To Dispute Real Estate Liens in Oklahoma
How Do You Dispute Liens on Real Estate?
Discovering a lien on your property can be a stressful and concerning situation. Whether it’s a judgment lien, mechanics and materialmens lien, or any other type of encumbrance which we have listed in our helpful Oklahoma liens guide, addressing the issue promptly and effectively is crucial. In Oklahoma, property owners have specific rights and procedures to dispute liens and protect their property interests. Here is a summary on how to dispute a lien on your property in Oklahoma:
Getting Notice of the Lien
Oklahoma law requires that some types of lienholders actually give you notice that they will or have placed a lien on your property before or immediately after doing so. Some lienholders will ignore those rules or potentially find a way around them.
How do I know when someone has filed a lien on my property?
Many counties have lien notification systems, such as the very helpful Oklahoma County Clerk Lien Alert System and Tulsa County Clerk Recording Notification Service, which can notify you immediately whenever a document affecting your property is recorded with their offices. Other counties throughout the state may offer a similar service; check with your county clerk’s office to see if this is an option for you.
Understanding Your Rights
Property owners have the right to challenge liens that they believe were improperly filed or lack legal merit. It is also vital to differentiate between valid and invalid liens. Valid liens are those filed by creditors with legitimate claims, while invalid liens may arise from errors, misunderstandings, or even fraudulent actions.
Common Steps to Dispute a Lien
- Review the Lien Documentation: Carefully review the lien documentation that you received. This could be a notice, a copy of the filed lien, or any communication from the lienholder. Verify the accuracy of the information, including property details, amounts owed, and the nature of the debt.
- Seek Legal Advice: Consulting with experienced real estate attorneys is highly recommended when dealing with a lien dispute. An attorney can help you understand your rights, assess the validity of the lien, and guide you through the dispute process. Some disputes are quickly resolved, while others may take time to fight.
- Gather Evidence: Collect all relevant documents and evidence that can support your case against the lien. Your evidence could include invoices, contracts, proof of payments, and any correspondence with the lien claimant.
- Contact the Creditor: Reach out to the lien claimant. Open communication can sometimes lead to a resolution without involving legal action. Discuss the situation, provide evidence, and attempt to negotiate a compromise. Note that this step may not be advisable for all lien disputes.
- File a Lien Release Bond: In some cases, one option may be to file a lien release bond with the county clerk’s office as a way to quickly remove the cloud on your property title while the lien dispute is still ongoing. The bond acts as a substitute for the claimed debt and gives the lienholder a security interest in the bond rather than your property.
- File a Lawsuit: If negotiations and other methods are unsuccessful, you may need to file a lawsuit to dispute the lien. Your attorney can help you prepare and file the necessary legal documents to challenge the validity of the lien, and could include claims such as quiet title, breach of contract, lien invalidation, etc.
- Ensure a Release of Lien or Judgment is Recorded: After the resolution of the lien dispute, the property owner should be especially careful to ensure that the lien claimant (or a judge) has signed a document which formally releases the lien in full. Without a release being on the record, the title to the property could stay “clouded” indefinitely, which would just require more curative efforts at a later date.
Specific Steps for Specific Types of Liens
- Judgment Liens: If you believe that a judgment lien was improperly filed or that the judgment itself is an issue, you may be able to reopen the court case by filing a motion to vacate or set aside the judgment. This type of motion would require you to provide evidence that supports your reasoning that the judgment was somehow improper or incorrect. Learn more about judgment liens here.
- Property Tax Liens: Disputing property tax liens typically involves proving that the assessed property value is incorrect or that the taxes were paid on time. You often have the right to challenge the valuation through the county assessor’s office or appeal the tax assessment in court, but there are strict deadlines for when you can actually pursue an appeal.
Lien Dispute Summary
Disputing a lien on your property in Oklahoma requires careful attention to detail, knowledge of the legal process, and a thorough understanding of your rights as a property owner. If you believe a lien has been improperly filed or lacks merit, reach out to an attorney who has the necessary experience to help you resolve the matter. Don’t forget – addressing liens promptly is crucial to avoiding potential complications when selling, refinancing, or transferring ownership of your property.
We Can Help
Avenue Legal Group helps clients navigate all stages of lien issues affecting property in Oklahoma. Contact Avenue Legal Group by phone, text message, email, or our website intake form to ask questions or begin resolving your lien claim or dispute. We offer flat or fixed fees for lien creation and filing and predictable rates for lien disputes.
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