How to Stop an Illegal Lien

By Jessica McElrath

A lien is a legal claim a creditor has against a debtor's property, such as a car or real property. A mortgage is a consensual lien, while a mechanic's lien is a non-consensual lien. A mechanic's lien is a claim a person can file against an owner's property for unpaid labor, supplies or services provided to the property owner. A person can dispute an illegal lien if the lien holder does not have a valid claim.

Write a demand letter. If a lien is invalid or illegal, you can dispute its validity by sending the lien holder a demand letter. In the demand letter --- which may or may not be required by state law --- you will explain the reason why the lien is invalid and you will demand its removal. You should also state that the failure to remove the lien will result in you filing a lawsuit to remove the lien.

File a lawsuit to remove the lien in the appropriate court, such as a superior court, if the lien holder fails to remove the lien. Depending on state law, you may be required to wait a certain amount of time before you can file a lawsuit. In Louisiana, for instance, you must give the claimant 10 days to remove the lien after you send the demand letter before you can file a lawsuit for the removal of the lien. In the motion you submit to the court, you will state the facts of the case, the reason the lien is invalid and the relief you are requesting.

Serve the motion on the lien holder. This notifies the lien holder that you have filed a lawsuit to remove the lien. Depending on state law, besides serving the lien holder via in-person delivery, it may be acceptable to serve the lien holder via certified or registered mail instead.

Attend the hearing. The clerk of the court will set the hearing date. State law will mandate when the hearing must take place. In the state of Washington, for example, the hearing date must occur between six and 15 days from the date the motion was served on the lien holder.

About the Author

Jessica McElrath has been a freelance writer since 2000. McElrath is the author of "The Everything John F. Kennedy Book" and "The Everything Martin Luther King Jr. Book." McElrath has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law.

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