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Liens

What is a Lien in New York?

A New York lien is a legal claim that a creditor has on a debtor's assets if the debtor cannot repay a loan or meet a contractual obligation. When a creditor files a lien against a debtor's asset, the asset becomes collateral, and the lien ensures that the creditor's interest is secured. A lien is also a legal interest in an asset. Once a creditor puts a lien on an asset, the debtor cannot sell the asset without the creditor's consent. Lien filings are public, and liened assets are hard to sell because a lien applies to the asset and not the asset owner or the creditor.

A creditor may sell the liened asset to recover the loan's value or payment owed. In some cases, creditors may not sell a liened property without a court order issued by New York courts. In other instances, a lien does not apply to tangible assets like property. Essentially, there are different types of liens whose functions are determined by the circumstances under which they are established.

Types of Lien in New York

There are several types of liens in New York. They include property liens, tax liens, aircraft liens, artisan liens, mechanics liens, livestock liens, and attorney liens.

Liens may be general or specific. While general liens apply to all of a debtor's non-exempt assets, specific liens apply to a debtor's specific asset. With a general lien, a creditor may take possession of as many assets as is needed to make up the value of the debt. However, a debtor may only take possession of the particular liened asset with a specific lien. New York Lien Laws guide lien filing and execution in the state.

In the state of New York, liens can also be categorized under a combination of any of these two pairs; voluntary or involuntary, also known as a consensual or non-consensual lien, and general or specific lien.

A tax lien, for instance, is both involuntary and general. Involuntary liens exist where a formal agreement between the creditor and debtor was not issued. In contrast, general liens exist where no particular asset was attached to the contract as collateral. On the other hand, a mortgage lien is both voluntary and specific. Voluntary liens exist where there was a formal agreement between the creditor and debtor (in this case, the bank). However, specific liens exist where a particular collateral is used to secure the loan in case of a contract breach.

What is a Property Lien in New York?

A creditor has the right to file a lien against a debtor's property as security for the debtor's obligation. The lien gives the creditor a legal claim on the debtor's property; the creditor may foreclose or sell the debtor's property for the value of the debtor's obligation.

New York property liens apply to real estate and personal property like art, antiques, jewelry, and other valuables. A property lien is attached to the property title and transfers with ownership. There are different types of property liens, including mechanics liens, tax liens, IRS or New York Department of Revenue liens, Home Owners Association liens, and mortgages. A creditor may file a lien judgment in the New York county where the debtor's property is located or in any county where the debtor owns properties. A creditor may not repossess an exempted property. Property exemptions in New York include:

  • Up to $170,825 in homestead equity
  • Up to $4550 in motor vehicle equity or up to $11,375 for disabled debtors
  • Up to $11,375 in home heating equipment, school books, family portraits, and religious texts

How Do You Know if a Property Has a Lien in New York?

When a lien is placed on a property in New York, the lienor_/_creditor or lienee/debtor is likely to receive a notice regarding it. However, if the lien is involuntary, the lienee may be unaware of it. Hence, prospective buyers are advised to conduct a thorough search to obtain information regarding possible liens on a property. The best way to go about this is to do a property title search on the property.

A property title search is a unique search that will give full details on the property's history. Requestors may run a free title search, but this can be very time-consuming, so it is best to visit a title agency or hire a private title agent and have a thorough search for a lien on the property (or properties, as the case may be).

What is a Tax Lien in New York?

New York tax liens arise due to tax delinquency. When a New York resident fails to pay federal or state taxes, the state may file a lien against the debtor's assets to enforce the tax payment. The IRS files liens against federal tax delinquents, while the New York Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF) files liens against state tax delinquents. Tax liens do not imply automatic sale or foreclosure of the debtor's assets. A tax lien makes the IRS or the DTF priority debtors, meaning that the IRS or DTF will recover debts ahead of other debtors.

Persons who default on property tax payments, including utility bills such as water bills, interests, and other charges, may lose the property to foreclosure. The state or federal tax authority files a lien against property tax delinquents, which in turn could initiate a foreclosure. The New York tax district may take possession of the property or sell the tax lien to a third party at an auction. A property tax delinquent may redeem the liened property within two (2) years after the state files the lien. The two years are known as the redemption period. A foreclosure will begin three months before the end of the redemption period; however, the property owner will receive a foreclosure notice.

What is a Mortgage Lien in New York?

A mortgage is a voluntary lien that grants a mortgagee a legal claim to the mortgagor's real property. Mortgages are loans that help mortgagors finance house ownership; the mortgagor does not have full ownership of the property until the mortgagor has completed the mortgage payment. Additionally, the property is collateral; therefore, the mortgagee may repossess the house if the mortgagor misses mortgage payments. Unlike other types of property liens, mortgages are voluntary. The mortgagor is aware of and consents to the lien.

What is a Mechanics Lien in New York?

In New York, laborers, contractors, sub-contractors, design professionals, material suppliers, design professionals, and equipment lessors may file a mechanics lien against a debtor. Persons who perform construction or improvement jobs on real property may file mechanics liens against the property within a period of completing or offering the services.

The filing deadline for mechanics liens depends on the type of property involved; the deadline for single-living properties is four (4) months after the contractor finishes the work or the supplier supplies materials. The deadline for general furnishing services and other properties is eight (8) months.

Parties must enforce new York mechanics liens within one (1) year of filing. Sub-suppliers may not file mechanics liens in New York.

What is a UCC Lien?

When a business owner takes a loan for business expenses, the creditor files a UCC lien against the debtor. The Uniform Commercial Code guides business transactions in every state in the United States.

A UCC lien can apply to a particular business or personal property. The UCC lien could also apply to all of a debtor's assets. A UCC lien is a public notice - by filing, the creditor publicly notifies the debtor of legal interest or claim to the debtor's asset(s). A UCC lien is also useful in construction; material suppliers often claim outstanding payments using UCC liens.

What is a Judgment Lien?

New York judgment liens result from lawsuits or civil court cases. The defendant may fail to comply when the court enters a judgment and awards damages in a suit. A judgment lien is a court order that ensures the debtor pays the required damages to the creditor. In New York, judgment liens apply to a debtor's real property or personal property like jewelry and art. Judgment liens are valid for up to ten (10) years in New York.

Voluntary Lien Vs. Involuntary Lien in New York?

In New York, voluntary liens require a debtor's consent; the debtor willingly consents to a voluntary lien by agreeing to specific terms. A mortgage is a type of voluntary lien. On the other hand, an involuntary lien does not require or involve the debtor's agreement. Creditors typically file involuntary liens against debtors. Tax liens, mechanics liens, and judgment liens are involuntary liens.

How Do I Check for Liens in New York?

To check for liens in New York, individuals can start by examining the public record of the house online at the local county's property appraiser site or in person. Then go to a title agency and request a property title search. Afterward, pay for a property title search; this will cost around $75 - $100 and ensure the receipt of a property title insurance certificate.

Free Lien Search in New York

Interested persons may search for liens at no cost in New York:

  1. Visit the local county's property appraiser site and look at the records on the house. Take note of the following: owner's name, legal description, property for judgment, liens, parcel number, and any other critical details noted.
  2. Go to the public recorder's office and note the aforementioned details, including any recent lawsuits against the property. Check for liens filed against other properties of the owner. One lien can affect more than one property.
  3. Confirm that all the title transfers follow the proper pattern, including matching names, addresses, dates, and details, and ensure all loose ends are tied.

How Creditors Collect Payment Through a Lien

In New York, creditors can collect payments through a lien. If a delinquent debtor neglects to fulfill the requirements of a lien, a civil action may be filed in a court to enforce the lien concerning the tax or liability. The creditor may place a lien on any property where the debtor has any title to get paid. The court will then notify other creditors and third parties involved to determine how the creditor will enforce the lien. Liens may be enforced by the sale of the property or distribution of the proceeds and any other legal action.

How Do I Get a Lien Removed in New York?

The first and best way to get a lien removed in New York is to pay off the debt. It is essential afterward to file for a release of lien form depending on the type of lien as evidence that debt has been paid or satisfied. For instance, an estate tax lien would require a Release of Lien of Estate Tax. If the debtor has difficulty paying debt off in time, they may negotiate with the creditor.

Liens may be filed accidentally, so lienees will be required to certify the error, contact the lienor to fix it, or take it to court and dispute it if the lienor does not comply.

How Long Does a Lien Stay on Your Property in New York?

The length of time a lien remains on a property varies with the type of lien. Other than tax and mortgage liens which remain until the debt is paid, most liens last for ten years or until the debt is satisfied, as in the case of negotiation between debtor and creditor.

How to Avoid a Lien in New York?

For a debtor to avoid a judicial lien in New York, a motion for bankruptcy can be filed in the court. The court must be presented with the necessary evidence to give a bankruptcy discharge which will stop any future judgment application on any property acquired after bankruptcy.

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