Liens can be put on any property in Massachusetts and allow a creditor to stake a claim on a debtor’s personal property if they are unable to satisfactorily keep up their payments. Read on to learn about all the different types of lien that may be placed on a condo in Massachusetts, what they mean, and what you can do if a lien is placed on your condo.
A lien is a legal claim or right that can be put on a property that will allow a creditor to use that asset as collateral for a loan. If you pay the loan off, then you will have fulfilled your obligation and you’ll have ownership of the asset. However, if you cannot or choose not to fulfill your repayment obligations, the creditor can make a legal claim on the property and, in a few cases, start the process of foreclosure.
With respect to condos, the different lien types are:
- Judgment lien – in any state, the court can attach a judgment lien to real estate you own. This allows the creditor to legally be owed a certain amount of money from the sale of the property when the property is sold. This lasts for 20 years. (Learn more about the legal process of a judgment lien here.)
- Mechanic’s lien – in Massachusetts, a “mechanic” (i.e. someone who has put labor and materials into a property to improve it) can get a lien on a property to recoup their losses if the owner cannot or refuses to pay them. This gives contractors protection from doing work and not being paid. (Find out more about the legalities of these liens here.)
- Tax lien – this is a lien the government will put on your home if you don’t pay your taxes.
- Mortgage lien – this is the type of lien everyone gets when they get a mortgage.
- UCC lien – this is a voluntary loan you can get when you take on a loan that is secured against your property.
An involuntary lien can only be put in place once the creditor has given notice that legal action will be taken if the owner won’t or can’t pay, filed court paperwork to start the legal process, had the courts approve what they file with their evidence, and recorded it with the Registry of Deeds.
In some cases, a claimant can petition the court for a lien without notifying the owner provided they have sufficient evidence and fear that the owner may do something to significantly damage the value of the property. The owner can contest this after the fact.
An involuntary lien may be put on your property if:
- you do not fulfill your financial obligations to your COA (condominium owners’ association).
- if you fail to pay your contractor(s)
- have overdue taxes.
Once a lien has been placed on a property, it cannot be sold until the lien is repaid in full. The good news is the Massachusetts Homestead Act means you cannot be forced out of your home, with a few exceptions (such as a mortgage lien).
Any mortgage or tax liens on the property take precedence over a lien by another claimant, such as a COA. The COA can only start the process of foreclosure if there is no mortgage and no tax lien.
Is there any way to have a condo lien removed?
When you clear the debt, the lien will be removed. If you believe a lien has been placed on your property without your notice and without a good reason, you can contest it – reach out to a skilled attorney if this is the case.
There are a few things you should do if you’re facing financial difficulties, and the first thing is to face the problems head-on. It’s easy to let the embarrassment of the situation push you to put your head in the sand, but ignoring the problem will only make it worse. Like a problem you should see a doctor for, you should start talking to those around you when you’re feeling unable to meet your financial responsibilities.
The first thing you should do is reach out to the person or entity you owe money to. Ask them for a meeting or, if it’s your COA, ask to meet a few of your neighbors you feel most comfortable with for coffee (or invite them over) and lay your cards out on the table. Most people want to help – by being honest and showing that you’re doing your best to manage the situation, they may be willing to waive your fees for a little while, reduce them, or delay them until you’re in better financial standing.
Next, make a plan. Do you see a way out of this difficult situation in the near future? If not, it may be best to sell your property as soon as you can to buy an inexpensive property or rent for a while until you’re back on your feet. Remember, nothing is permanent and as heartbreaking as it can be to be forced to sell your home, you’ll find another home you love in the future. It’s better to act and feel in control of your situation than to be passive on the roller coaster, not knowing what people will do to force you into action.
Many people try to hold onto their home because they don’t want to go through change, but enduring a challenging financial situation can dig you into a worse position and damage your physical and mental health.
Many people regret not taking action sooner to sell their home so they can move on with their life, move to a home they can better afford, pay off their debt, and get back on their feet.
If you’re ready to shake off the stress and sell your condo fast, we can help. We buy condos in Massachusetts in any condition without fees and close quickly. We’ll offer you a no-obligation cash offer without an in-depth inspection and absolutely no commissions.
Why not explore all your options? Click here to learn more.