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Michigan Court Records

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Michigan Lien Search

A Michigan lien search is a process that allows individuals to search and verify the presence of a lien on a real property or personal property in Michigan. It entails reviewing a property's public records, such as land records and titles, held by relevant government offices, including Michigan County Registers and the Michigan Secretary of State. A lien search is essential in ascertaining who else has legal rights to a property or real estate besides its owner. 

What is a Lien in Michigan?

A lien in Michigan is a legal claim against a property that serves as security for an obligation or debt. Liens can occur for several reasons, including unpaid debt, tax, and labor on a property. They are established and enforced within the provisions of the Michigan state legislature.

Types of Liens in Michigan

Different types of liens may be issued in Michigan. Some of the most common include:

  • Mechanic's Lien
  • Property Tax Lien
  • Judgement Lien  
  • Mortgage Lien

It is worth noting that Liens can be categorized into different groups based on characteristics they share. For instance, the overall reach and effects of a lien (General liens and Specific liens) and their prerequisites for issuance (Consensual or Involuntary Liens).

General Liens in Michigan

General liens in Michigan can be issued against all property or assets a debtor owns. These include real property, such as real estate and land, as well as personal assets, such as vehicles. A general lien allows a creditor to use any property or asset a debtor owns to recover the amount they are owed in the event of a default. An excellent example of a general lien is a tax lien. 

Specific Liens

A specific lien is a legal claim against a particular property. Specific liens are often the result of an unpaid debt incurred by the property owner that is tied to a particular property they own. An example of a specific lien is a mortgage lien, where the claim is only attached to a mortgaged property.

Consensual vs Involuntary Liens

Liens put on a property with its owner's permission are voluntary or consensual liens. They are usually the result of a contractual agreement where a debtor voluntarily grants their creditor security interest in their property to secure an outstanding debt. Some common examples of consensual lien are car loans or mortgages. 

On the other hand, an involuntary lien can be imposed on a property without its owner's consent. These liens are usually issued due to a court-ordered judgement or the operation of relevant laws. Tax liens and Judgement liens are some examples of involuntary liens. 

Statutory Liens

Statutory liens are types of involuntary liens that are imposed by law. Generally, the only requirement for the issuance of an involuntary lien is a federal or state statute that allows it. No formal agreement is needed, nor is the property owner's permission. A construction lien, which can be issued under Michigan Construction Act 497 of 1980, and a property tax lien are two examples of statutory liens.

What is a Tax Lien in Michigan?

A tax lien in Michigan is a legal claim that government agencies may attach to any personal or real property owned by a taxpayer in Michigan for delinquent unpaid taxes. For instance, the Michigan Department of Treasury and local tax collection agencies can file a state tax lien against a taxpayer's property anywhere in Michigan for delinquent tax. A tax lien can be issued for delinquent income, business, and property taxes in Michigan. 

Are Tax Liens Public Records?

Yes. Tax liens are public records pursuant to the provisions of Michigan's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), MCL 15.231.

To issue a tax lien against a taxpayer's property, a government agency (i.e., the Michigan Department of Treasury) must file a notice of tax lien with the register of deeds in the county where the property is located. Once filed, the lien would maintained as public records. As a result, anybody can access Michigan tax lien records, including news outlets, newspapers, and credit reporting organizations that might choose to publish them. 

Resolving tax liens as soon as they are discovered is usually recommended because they have several negative implications. For example, a tax lien can negatively impact on a person's credit score and will show up on their credit report for seven to 10 years. Furthermore, until the debt is settled, a property with a tax lien attached to its title is typically prohibited from being sold or transferred. 

Michigan Tax Lien Search

Interested parties can perform a tax lien search in Michigan by querying local Recorder of Deeds offices. These offices maintain records for the different types of liens, including tax liens, affixed on real estate within their jurisdiction. Therefore, inquirers can query the Register of Deed Office in the county where a property is located to obtain information about any tax liens that may have been placed against the property. Most recorder's offices provide at least one of the following methods for requesting records they maintain:

  • In-person: Some county recorders' offices, for example, Wayne County Register of Deed, provide self-serve kiosks at their office's lobby that can be used to search for tax liens and other records they maintain. Note that in-person searches are usually subject to a search fee and additional fees for copies of documents. However, search fees are waivable if the requester can provide proof (i.e., a valid driver's license) that the property information being queried is their residence. Furthermore, both search and document copy fees are waived for veterans and current military personnel provided they are inquiring about a property they own and can present their credentials (i.e. VFW Card, USAA card, or Military ID).
  • By mail: Conducting a tax lien search by mail entails composing a written request and mailing it along with the required fees to a recorder's office. Some recorder's offices provide a dedicated form inquirers can use to make their requests; an example is the Wayne County Register of Deed document request form. Requesters must include, in their request, any information that can be used to identify the property that is the subject of their inquiry, such as the street address, legal address, or tax identification number of the property. Requesters must also provide their contact information to enable the register's office to contact them.
  • Online: Most Register offices provide online access to the records they maintain via online portals and databases accessible through their website. An example is the Wanye County Register of Deeds self-service website. These websites are usually searchable using a document (lien) recording date or a taxpayer's name. 

On the other hand, the Michigan Secretary of State's Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) web service provides information regarding tax liens placed against personal properties in Michigan. 

Federal Tax Lien Search

A Federal Tax Lien search is an investigative inquiry on a property to determine if a federal lien is attached to it. When a taxpayer ignores or refuses to pay their federal tax bill following a demand for payment, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may impose a federal tax lien on properties a taxpayer owns to secure the debt. 

Like other liens in Michigan, a federal tax lien can be attached to real property by the IRS by filing the lien with the Register of Deed in the county where the property is situated. For this reason, individuals can perform a federal tax lien search in person, online, or by mail through local register offices, as previously explained. Alternatively, they can hire a title company to perform a title search on a property, which would reveal any encumbrances, including federal tax liens, attached to the property. Additionally, a federal tax lien search can also be performed through third-party websites that provide such services.

What is a Lien on Property in Michigan?

A lien on a property in Michigan is a legal charge that provides the government, an individual, or an entity a security interest in the property as security for a debt or an obligation the property's owner owes. Chapter 570 of Michigan Compiled Laws outlines the state's provision for establishing and imposing property liens in the state.

Who Can Put a Lien On a Property?

Anyone with verifiable proof that an individual owes them a debt or an obligation can put a lien against the individual's property in Michigan. For instance, a contractor whom a property owner owes for goods provided and services rendered on their property can put a construction lien on the property to recover the money owed.

How To Put A Lien On Property In Michigan

The process for filing a lien on property in Michigan varies with the lien type and the creditor/debtor's circumstances. However, the following processes are essential across the board:

  • Eligibility Assessment

Ensure that there is solid justification for the lien's issuance and supporting documentation for the claim. Liens are frequently placed for unpaid debts due to services rendered services, court judgements, or due taxes if recollecting agencies. 

  • Determine the type of lien to file and consider its requirements.

There are specific procedures and requirements for different types of liens under Michigan law. A claimant can review relevant statutes to learn about the legal requirements for the lien they wish to establish.

  • Prepare Lien Documents

Assemble all the paperwork and records needed to file the lien. This includes the claim of lien and other documents that demonstrate the property owner's obligation and default, such as contracts, invoices, and court rulings. The claim of lien should include information like the property owner's name, the property's description, the amount owed, and a summary of the supplies or work completed.

  • File a Lien with the Appropriate Office and pay any required filing fee. 

For liens against real property, the lien documents should be filed with the Register of Deed Office in the county where the property is located. Meanwhile, liens on personal property must be filed with the Michigan Secretary of State's office (SOS).

The SOS charges a $15 filing fee. Meanwhile, most register offices charge a $30 filing fee.   

  • Serve Notice

Notifying the property owner or any interested parties about the lien may be required, depending on the type of lien. 

The following is an overview of the process for filing a mechanic's lien in Michigan. Mechanic's liens in Michigan are governed by the Michigan Construction Lien Act (MCLA 570.1101 et seq.):

  • Time Frame:

The time frame for filing a mechanic's lien in Michigan is generally within 90 days from the last date of providing labor, services, or materials.

The 90-day period is critical, and missing this deadline may result in the loss of lien rights. Factors affecting the time frame include the completion of work or the provision of materials.

  • Cost of Filing:

The cost of filing a mechanic's lien in Michigan may vary. It typically includes fees for preparing documents, notarization, and filing with the county. The specific fees can be obtained from the county Register of Deeds office where the property is located.

  • Offices for Filing:

File the mechanic's lien with the Register of Deeds office in the county where the property is situated. Commonly used forms for filing a mechanic's lien in Michigan include:

  • Notice of Furnishing: Before filing a lien, a Notice of Furnishing may be required, notifying the property owner and other interested parties that you are providing services or materials.
  • Claim of Lien: This form is filed to officially establish the lien and must be submitted within the 90-day window.
  • Affidavit of Service of Notice of Furnishing: If a Notice of Furnishing was sent, an affidavit confirming its service may be required.

How to Find a Lien on Property in Michigan

Interested persons can find a lien on a real property (i.e. real estate or land) in Michigan by querying the Register of Deeds office in the county where the property is situated to review land records they maintain. Generally, liens on real property in Michigan are recorded and maintained as public records at these offices. Meanwhile, to find liens on personal property in Michigan, the Secretary of State's office (SOS) may be queried. 

Property Lien Search by Address 

Interested persons can conduct a property lien search by address by submitting a written request for the property's documents to the local register's office in the county where the property is located. Most of these offices, like Wayne County Register of Deeds, allow requesters to search for documents and records, which include records of lien they maintain on property within their respective jurisdiction by address. 

Some of these offices provide a dedicated request form requester can use to facilitate their request. For instance, the Wayne County Register of Deed document request form. On this form, a requester can supply a property's street or legal address to identify the property whose document is being requested.

Most online tools and resources provided by local register offices that can be used to search for lien on properties are usually not searchable by a property's address. Search parameters such as a debtor's name, the file number, or the date the document was recorded are typically used instead. 

Alternatively, certain third-party aggregator websites can be used for liens on property in Michigan by address. Many websites let users search by a property's address while looking for public information in Michigan, including lien records. 

Free Lien Search on Property

Individuals seeking information about property liens in Michigan can leverage convenient online resources offered by local register's offices, facilitating a complimentary lien search. Alternatively, they have the option to personally visit a local register's office during regular business hours to conduct in-depth searches of land records, ensuring a thorough investigation for any existing property liens within the jurisdiction. Both online tools and in-person visits are available at no cost to the inquirer, providing accessible avenues for obtaining crucial property information.

What is a Mechanics Lien in Michigan?

A mechanic's lien is a type of legal claim that Michigan suppliers, subcontractors, or contractors can place on a property to secure a debt owed for labor, materials, or services rendered for real estate development. The Michigan Construction Lien Act (MCLA) governs mechanics' liens and describes the rights and processes for filing and enforcing them.

Michigan Mechanics Lien Search

Like any other type of lien against real property in Michigan, interested persons can conduct a mechanics lien search by querying the local register's office in the county where the property is situated. As previously explained, some county registers of deed offices in Michigan offer online resources that can be used to search their records, including lien records, remotely. These online resources are usually accessible through the county or register office's website. Inquirers can also conduct lien searches by submitting a written request for a property's records to a county register of deed office. 

What is a Mortgage Lien in Michigan?

A mortgage lien in Michigan is a type of lien placed on real estate used as collateral for a mortgage loan. A mortgage lien is created when the borrower signs a mortgage agreement, usually a specific property they own as collateral in the agreement. 

A mortgage lien secures the repayment of a mortgage loan. By putting a lien on the property, the lender automatically has a legal stake in the collateral property and can take possession of the property register office if the borrower defaults. 

What is a UCC Lien in Michigan?

A UCC lien in Michigan is a legal claim recorded against personal property used to secure a debt or obligation the property owner owes. UCC lien filing and enforcement are governed by The Uniform Commercial Code (Michigan Public Act 174 of 1962). 

UCC Lien Search Michigan

UCC lien searches in Michigan will be conducted through the Michigan Secretary of State's office (SOS). For convenience, the SOS provides the Uniform Commercial Code online service that inquirers can use to check for liens recorded against personal properties in Michigan online. 

What is a Lien Title in Michigan?

A lien title is a legal claim made against the title of a vehicle that acts as insurance for the lender who finances the purchase of the car. Lenders essentially employ lien titles to safeguard their interests if the debtor defaults on the loan. A title lien can be enforced, giving the holder the legal authority to repossess the car in the event of a default. 

Michigan Title Lien Search

Interested persons can review a vehicle's records, precisely its title, to search for title liens against the vehicle. In Michigan, the Michigan Department of State is responsible for maintaining vehicle records and may be queried to access these records. The department provides information on how vehicle records can be requested on its Vehicle History page. 

What is a Judgement Lien in Michigan?

A Judgement lien in Michigan is a legal claim on a property due to a court judgement issued against the property's owner in a court case. When a court awards a monetary judgement ordering one party to pay another party a specific amount, a judgement lien can be recorded to secure the judgement payment. 

To record a judgement lien, a judgement's creditor can file their judgement with the local register of deed office in any county where the judgement's debtor owns real property. Doing this automatically attaches a judgment lien to all real property the judgement's debtor owns in the county where the judgement was recorded.  

Michigan Judgement Lien Search

Interested persons can search for judgement liens against real property in Michigan by querying the local Register of Deeds office in the county where the property is located. On the other hand, the Michigan Secretary of State should be queried to find judgement liens issued against personal properties in Michigan.

How to Get a Lien Release in Michigan

The easiest way to get a lien release in Michigan is to resolve the debt or obligation imposed by the lien. Once the debt or obligation has been resolved, the owner of the liened property can contact the lienholder to obtain a release-of-lien form. This form should be appropriately completed and filed with the local register of deed office where the lien was recorded to get a lien release. 

How to Get a Copy of a Lien Release in Michigan

A lien release letter is a document that shows a lien holder has relinquished their claim or interest in a property. To get a copy of a lien release in Michigan, record seekers can query the local register's office where a lien was formally filed.

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