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New Jersey Lien Search

A New Jersey lien search is a process that uncovers legal claims and encumbrances against property within state limits. The process involves reviewing New Jersey public records for outstanding liens or unpaid debts taken against tangible or intangible assets. In New Jersey, this information is managed by both government and independent sources, including New Jersey Courts, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, and the Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services (New Jersey Treasury). A Lien search offers details not just about the reason for a lien but also identifying the person, entity, or business holding the lien (referred to as the lienor).

What is a Lien in New Jersey?

According to the New Jersey Revised Statutes, a lien is a legal right or interest that a lender has in a borrower's property. This right is granted until a debt or obligation is satisfied. Liens are created based on an agreement between parties or may be imposed following a violation of the state's laws. 

Types of Liens in New Jersey

There are different types of liens in New Jersey, each with its distinct application. Some of these lien types are as follows:

  • Mortgage Liens: Financial institutions utilize mortgage liens as a form of security to ensure payment for their loan for the purchase of a property. When a property owner defaults on a mortgage payment, the creditor may have the right to claim the property and auction it to cover the mortgage loan.
  • Tax Liens: The government employs tax liens as a means to recover unpaid taxes.
  • Construction/Mechanic's Liens: These liens provide protection for contractors and suppliers by securing their right to payment. If they are not paid for their work or materials, they can file a mechanic's lien on the property, potentially leading to a forced sale to recover the owed amount.
  • Judgment Liens: A judgment lien is placed on a property when a debtor owes money to a creditor and a court grants a judgment in favor of the creditor. It serves as a legal claim on the debtor's property, ensuring that the creditor has a right to the proceeds if the property is sold.
  • Homeowners Association (H.O.A.) Liens: Homeowners' Associations use these liens to address unpaid fees or violations of community rules by property owners. The association may place a lien on the real estate property as a way to enforce payment or compliance.
  • Child Support Liens: Applied when an individual defaults on paying court-ordered child support, these liens act as a legal claim on the individual's property, helping ensure that the owed child support is paid.
  • Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) Liens: The I.R.S. may place a lien on a taxpayer's property if there are unpaid federal taxes. This lien serves as a claim against the property, making it a secured debt and potentially affecting the individual's ability to sell or refinance the property.

Most liens in New Jersey are categorized as either general, specific, involuntary, or consensual.

General Liens in New Jersey

General liens are placed on all or most of a person's property to secure repayment of debts. The sources of these liens can include unpaid taxes, outstanding debts, or court judgments. Unlike specific liens, all or most of the debtor's property will be at risk of being turned over to the creditor. Liens placed on bank accounts or a bank lien may fit into this category.

Specific Liens in New Jersey

Specific liens are tied to a particular piece of property a debtor owns. These liens are utilized to satisfy a specific debt. An example is a mortgage lien, where the property itself is collateral for a loan.

Consensual vs Involuntary Liens:

Consensual/Voluntary Liens: These arise from a mutual agreement between parties. For instance, when someone willingly takes on a mortgage or a home equity loan, they are entering into a consensual lien arrangement.

Involuntary Liens: In contrast, involuntary liens are imposed without the owner's consent. Tax liens and judgment liens are common examples where obligations such as unpaid taxes or legal judgments result in the placement of liens on the property.

Statutory Liens

Statutory liens are created by New Jersey law to provide creditors or lenders, as well as service providers, with a right to a property as security. They that these entities have a claim on the debtors property if they do not satisfy the terms of their obligations. Mechanics liens, for instance, fall under this category.

What is a Tax Lien in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, tax liens serve as a final recourse for the government to recoup outstanding debts from taxpayers who have defaulted on their taxes. These liens are placed on properties as a means to collect unpaid taxes, and if the debt remains unresolved, the property may be subject to sale. This process is governed by state statutes such as the New Jersey Statutes Title 54, Chapter 5:6 et seq., which outlines the state's tax lien sales and redemption procedures. Tax liens are also referred to as tax sale certificates.

Are Tax Lien Public Records?

Yes, tax liens in New Jersey are considered public records, per New Jersey Statutes Title 54, Section 5-6.1. After a tax lien is filed, its duplicate is transmitted to the county clerk's office, as mandated by New Jersey Statutes Title 54, Section 5-6.2. Subsequently, this information is made publicly accessible on the county clerk's official website. Liens are made public to enable the public and potential investors to exercise caution in their dealings with tax defaulters, given the potential adverse impact on their public reputation.

New Jersey Tax Lien Search

Conducting a New Jersey tax lien search involves accessing public records to identify any outstanding tax liens against a property or individual in the state. The options for a New Jersey tax lien lookup are as follows:

Superior Court Clerks Offices:

In New Jersey, the Superior Court Clerk's Office can provide information about liens, including default judgments and Certificates of Debt. To conduct a tax lien search through this office:

  1. Locate and contact the Superior Court Clerk's Office in the county where the property is located;
  2. Submit a written request with the property details or the individual's name and an I.D.;
  3. Pay the required fee and the search will be processed. 

Jugdement Record Searches Through New Jersey Courts:

Judgment records within New Jersey Courts may feature information on outstanding tax liens. However, judgments are only retained for 20 years after they are declared.

To initiate a tax lien lookup through this channel, contact the relevant New Jersey Court where judgments are filed. Submit a request specifying the property details or individual's name and pay any associated fees. Upon approval, the court will provide access to the relevant judgment records.

New Jersey Department of Treasury - Division of Taxation:

The New Jersey Division of Taxation oversees the state taxation and has a Tax Lookup and Payment Service with which inquirers can lookup and pay past due bills. The service is available to both individuals and businesses. To access the database, individual users will need to enter the social security number and birthdate of the subject of the tax bill, while estate executors, trustees, and administrators will need to provide the social security number or federal identification number as well as the date of death and the date the trust was created. Inquiries about the service may be made to (609) 292-6400 during regular business hours.

Federal Tax Lien Search

A federal tax lien in New Jersey is a legal suit against taxpayers' property when they default on tax payments. When a federal tax lien is filed, it becomes attached to the taxpayer's real estate, personal property, and financial investments. When taxpayers default, the government proceeds to sell real estate property implicated by the lien.

To conduct a federal tax lien search in New Jersey, query the superior court clerk or county clerk of the county where the property is located. The process for conducting a lien search will typically vary by jurisdiction and custodian. Thus, inquirers must request guidance on accessing relevant records through the office.

In Passaic County, federal tax lien requests are processed through a dedicated Registry Division. Here, requestors will be required to provide information to facilitate the search and pay a fee of $25. On the other hand, federal tax lien requests are processed through the Land Records (Room) in Mercer County. The fee for this service is also $25, but persons requiring paper copies must contact the Office's Indexing Section at (609) 989-6476.

What is a Lien on Property in New Jersey?

A New Jersey property lien is a legal claim or encumbrance placed on a property by the government, typically due to the property owner's failure to pay property taxes. In New Jersey, property liens take precedence over other types of liens, including mortgage liens, regardless of when they are recorded.

New Jersey property tax liens are governed primarily by Title 54 of the New Jersey Statutes Annotated (N.J.S.A. 54). Specifically, relevant sections include N.J.S.A. 54:5-1 et seq., which outline the procedures for the assessment and collection of property taxes, including the establishment and enforcement of property tax liens. These statutes provide detailed information on the rights and responsibilities of property owners, taxing authorities, and other parties involved in the taxation and enforcement process.

Who can put a lien on a property?

In New Jersey, different individuals or organizations can place a lien on a property for various reasons. Some of these groups include:

  • Government organizations such as the I.R.S. or the New Jersey Department of Revenue can place liens on properties for various unpaid taxes, including income taxes, property taxes, or municipal fines. This way, the government can recover outstanding taxes individuals or property owners owe.
  •  Contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers who provide labor, materials, or services for construction or renovation on a property can file a mechanic's lien if they are owed for work done.
  • Homeowners' Associations can impose liens on properties when homeowners fail to pay dues, fees, or assessments associated with maintaining common areas or enforcing community rules.
  • If someone wins a court case against a property owner because they haven't paid back things like loans or legal fees, they can file a judgment lien on the property. This accords them a legal claim to the property until the outstanding debts are fully paid.
  • When someone gets a house mortgage, the lender puts a lien on the property as a security until the loan is completely paid off. Defaulting on the loan will warrant a foreclosure, enabling the lender to repossess the property, sell it, and get their money back.
  • Utility service providers, including electric, gas, or water companies, can place liens on properties for outstanding utility bills. These liens allow the service providers to withhold their services or go to court to collect their money.

How to put a lien on property in New Jersey

The process of putting a lien on a property in New Jersey may vary depending on the type of lien and the circumstances surrounding it. Generally, most lien filing will require the following steps:

Step 1: Ensure That the Claim is Valid:

Petitioners must ensure that they have a valid legal claim against the owner of the property or debtor. The claim could be on the basis of a debt owed, a court judgment, a violation of state law, or another legally recognized claim.

Step 2: Determine the Type of Lien:

Liens are unique to the nature of the agreement and their basis. Hence, the petitioner must determine which type of lien suits their circumstance. For financial institutions that offer real estate loans, it may be a mortgage lien; there are also mechanic's liens for contractors, judgment liens, tax liens, etc. Each type of lien has specific legal requirements and processes.

Step 3: File a Lawsuit or Obtain a Judgment:

Depending on the lien type and agreement, the petitioner may need to file a lawsuit and obtain a judgment in your favor. The judgment will serve as the legal basis for the lien.

Step 4: Prepare Lien Documents:

Prepare the necessary documents for filing the lien. This may include a Notice of Intent to Lien, a Claim of Lien, and other relevant paperwork. 

Step 5: Serve Notice of Intent to Lien:

While this may not be required in every case, some lien types may require serving a Notice of Intent to Lien on the debtor or property owner before filing the actual lien. 

Step 6: File the Lien & Notify the Property Owner:

File the lien documents with the county clerk's office in the county where the property is located. The forms and fees required in this case will vary with the lien type and the judicial district's operations. 

Subsequent to filing the lien, provide notice to the property owner. This ensures that the property owner is aware of the lien and has an opportunity to address the issue.

Step 8: Enforce the Lien:

If the debt remains unpaid, lien holders may need to take further legal steps to enforce the lien. This could involve a foreclosure process or other legal actions, depending on the type of lien.

How to Find a Lien on Property in New Jersey

In New Jersey, information regarding property tax liens becomes public as soon as they are issued. Property lien information is typically maintained by the office of the New Jersey Division of Taxation and Superior Court Clerks or County Clerks, depending on the jurisdiction in question. Property lien information that is considered publicly available includes details such as the name of the party responsible for the lien, the lien holder, and the amount owed.

To find a lien on property in New Jersey, inquirers must first identify the specific county where the property is located. Most counties have an official website (managed by the county clerk's office or superior court clerk) that provides remote access to property tax information. Navigate to the website's property records or tax records section and locate any online database or search tool allowing users to enter the property address or owner's name to retrieve information.

After the results are generated, look for information related to tax liens on the property. This may include details about unpaid property taxes, dates of tax sales, and the amount owed. Tax liens are often associated with specific tax sale certificates.

In addition to the official county websites, online platforms, and third-party services compile property record information and, by extension, property tax liens.

Property Lien Search By Address in New Jersey

To search for property liens by address, inquirers may utilize the online resources of the Tax accessor or the County Tax Board in the jurisdiction where the property is located. However, following the enactment of Daniel's Law, there are limitations on the availability of address-related information to the public, especially where said address is residential. Notwithstanding, eligible persons with justifiable intent may be able to obtain this information by querying custodian offices in person. Online resources like those managed by the New Jersey County Tax Boards Association no longer publish tax lists and property sales data as they inadvertently divulge address information. 

Inquirers may also consider using the New Jersey O.G.I.S. Property Explorer tool. The available search options include block and lot search and address search. However, these searches present information about individual property parcels in New Jersey in a map format.

Free Lien Search On Property

Most government custodians offer free lien searches on property in New Jersey, that is, for requests made in person. However, if the requestor requires physical documents or copies, they will be required to cover the cost of duplication. In addition, inquirers may conduct a free lien search on the property through third-party aggregate sites. However, most private databases will provide limited information and require a one-time payment or subscription to furnish extensive information. 

What is a Mechanics Lien in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, mechanics liens are governed by the Construction Lien Law, which is found in Title 2A, Chapter 44A of the New Jersey Statutes.

They are legal claims filed by contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers who contribute labor or materials to a construction project.

Per New Jersey law, a mechanics lien claimant must provide a Notice of Unpaid Balance and Right to File Lien to the property owner before filing a lien. This notice is typically sent within 60-90 days of the last day the claimant provided labor or materials. New Jersey mechanics liens contain specific information, including the work performed, the amount owed, and the property's legal description.

Parties involved in a construction project may exchange lien waivers, which are legal documents that waive the right to file a mechanics lien. However, the enforceability of such waivers can depend on various factors, including whether they were properly executed.

New Jersey Mechanics Lien Search

To conduct a Mechanics Lien Search in New Jersey, inquirers typically need to visit the Superior Court Clerk or the County Clerk's office in the county where the property is located. Unfortunately, the state doesn't provide an official online database for Mechanics Lien Searches. However, mechanics lien searches may be performed on third-party aggregator sites using the personal information of the lienholder and/or debtor.

What is a Mortgage Lien in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, a mortgage lien is a deliberate restriction placed on a property to secure a loan used for purchasing a building. When an individual obtains a mortgage or home equity loan, they directly engage with the lender, offering their home as collateral. Consequently, the lender establishes a lien on their property, a legal claim that remains until the mortgage is fully repaid, at which point the lien is released.

This process is governed by the New Jersey Statutes Annotated Title 46 (Property), Section 22-1, which outlines the procedures for recording and releasing mortgage liens in the state.

What is a U.C.C. Lien in New Jersey?

A Uniform Commercial Code lien in New Jersey is a legal claim against personal property used as collateral to secure a loan or debt. It is filed under the Uniform Commercial Code, which governs commercial transactions and ensures uniformity in business laws across different states. U.C.C. liens are typically filed with the New Jersey Secretary of State's office.

U.C.C. Lien Search New Jersey

To perform a U.C.C. lien search in New Jersey, use the Uniform Commercial Code Portal provided by the New Jersey Department of Treasury. The system allows users to submit U.C.C. financing statements, search the U.C.C. database, and download documents. Inquirers may perform a certified search, a non-certified search, or request bulk data. Detailed information about the use of this tool, and the extent of data provided on the database is outlined in the U.C.C. Search Manual.

What is a Lien Title in New Jersey?

When a vehicle is financed or used as collateral for a loan, the lender places a lien on the title - this is known as a lien title. The title with the lienholder's information indicates a financial interest in the vehicle. The title of a vehicle will typically show both the owner's information and the lienholder's information if there is a loan or financing on the vehicle.

When the loan is paid off, the lienholder (lender) provides a lien release or satisfaction of lien document. If the vehicle is sold with an outstanding lien, the lien must be satisfied before the title is transferred to a new owner. The buyer may require a clear title to register the vehicle.

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) is responsible for vehicle titling and registration. 

New Jersey Title Lien Search

To run a title Lien search for a car in New Jersey, inquirers may follow these steps:

  • Assemble necessary information, including vehicle Identification number (V.I.N.), name, and driver's license number.
  • Download and complete the Application for Title/Lien Search (Form DO-22)
  • Submit the completed application, a copy of the driver's license, and a check or money order payment for $15 (made payable to the NJMVC) to the following address:

New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission

Certified Information Unit

225 East New Jersey Street

P.O. Box 146

Trenton, NJ 08666-014

What is a Judgement Lien in New Jersey

New Jersey judgment liens arise when a court grants a judgment in favor of a creditor against a debtor. This lien serves as a way for the creditor to secure the debt and ensures that the debtor cannot sell or transfer the property without satisfying the judgment. In New Jersey, judgment liens are established and governed primarily by Title 2A: "Administration of Civil and Criminal Justice" of the New Jersey Statutes.

New Jersey Judgement Lien Search

A New Jersey judgement lien search is performed through the Superior Court or County Clerk's office in the jurisdiction where the judgment was declared. Jugdements, in general, are assembled and maintained by New Jersey Courts on an online database available to the public. To use NJ court's Jugdement Search tool, users must provide the party's first, middle and last name. Results may be further narrowed by providing details of the party's role, judgement status, filing location and date range. 

How to Get a Lien Release in New Jersey

A New Jersey lien release refers to a document specifying the formal release of a lien placed on a property or asset. These documents are created when a debtor fulfills their financial obligations.

Here are the general steps a debtor may take to obtain a lien release in New Jersey:

Fulfill the Debt Obligation:

In this case, the debt obligation depends on the lien type and the agreement between the debtor and the creditor. For a mortgage lien, all mortgage payments and other obligations must be paid off. In the case of a mechanic's lien, the debtor must satisfy the outstanding debt related to construction or improvement work. For a judgment lien, they must pay the judgment amount as ordered by the court.

Request a Lien Release:

Having fulfilled all outstanding obligations, the creditor or lienholder can request a lien release in writing. The request must include the property address, the amount paid, and relevant account information. They must provide proof of payment, such as receipts or canceled checks, to demonstrate that the debt has been satisfied.

Obtain a Satisfaction of Judgment & Record the Release:

Depending on the kind of lien in question, the creditor may be required to file a Satisfaction of Judgment with the court to acknowledge that the judgment has been paid. Debtors can request this document from the creditor. Subsequently, the satisfaction of judgment should be filed and recorded with the county clerk's office. This is to enable the lien to be removed from public records. 

How to Get a Copy of a Lien Release in New Jersey

In New Jersey, lien release copies may be obtained from the county clerk or court clerk's office in the jurisdiction where the satisfaction of judgment was issued. The specific processes will vary with the lien type and the processes unique to the custodian and judicial district.

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