What is a Lien in Colorado?
A lien in Colorado confers creditors with the legal right to a debtor's asset or property to satisfy a debt or an obligation. Liens provide creditors with an alternative method of recovering their money if debtors fail to pay back owed amounts. In Colorado, liens are issued by Colorado courts and can be placed on different assets, including real estate, cars, and other properties owned by the debtor.
Colorado liens can either be general or specific. A general lien applies to all assets owned by the debtor, including real estate and personal properties. In contrast, a specific lien holds a particular property as collateral until payment is complete. If the debtor fails to repay the money, the creditor can only sell or foreclose the particular property with the lien.
According to the Colorado Judicial Branch Annual Statistical Report, 349 persons filed mechanics' lien in 2019, making up 0.40% of the total civil filings that year.
How Do I Check for Liens in Colorado?
Liens in Colorado are public records. If it is a property lien, the searcher needs the address to find out if the property has any liens attached to it. Liens on personal property like cars, bank accounts, or assets are filed with the Colorado Secretary of State. Interested persons may visit the official website to carry out a name search under the "search" section. The database allows individuals to see if any liens are connected to the names provided in the search.
For liens on real property like a house, building, or land in Colorado, such liens are filed with the county clerk or recorder's office in the county where the property is located. Interested persons may contact the county clerk or recorder's office for more information on how to view the real estate records of the specific property.
The search may be in person or via the office's website (if any). All the searcher needs is the property owner's name and the property's location to access the property records. Alternatively, interested persons may contact a title agent or company to locate liens and pull property records and historical documents on a property. The searcher may also use online search tools to check for liens in Colorado, although it may come with a fee.
Free Lien Search in Colorado
In Colorado, government agencies that manage lien records, like the county clerk's office, provide free lien searches to interested persons. Requestors may visit any of the agency's offices to request a lien search or check if the agency has a search tool on its website. The searcher will have to provide relevant information to aid the search, and a successful search will typically provide the following information:
- Type of lien
- The name and address of the lienee
- The lien status, whether active, expired or released
Types of Lien in Colorado
People fall into debt for several reasons — for some, a failed contract, a loan due for repayment, or even a lawsuit. For many others, debts stem from unpaid child support, the use of credit to pay a debt, and various other reasons. To recover money owed, the creditor may enforce a lien to recover money owed, which gives the person rights to a debtor's property.
A common type of lien in Colorado is mechanics lien. It is a document filed in a local clerk's office to notify the owner of a property that there is an outstanding payment for work done or materials provided during the project's construction. Section 38-22-101 of the Colorado Revised Statutes allows contractors, laborers, or other interested persons to file this type of lien. Under Colorado law, such persons owed money may file a lien against the property to recover the money owed.
What is a Property Lien in Colorado?
A property lien in Colorado is attached to the assets of debtors. The creditor claims such properties if the debtor defaults in payment. Article 20, Title 38 of the Colorado Statutes regulates the execution of personal property liens in the state. For instance, Section 38-20-106.5 authorizes auto repair garages to repossess a motor vehicle to recover unpaid amounts for repairs. The repossession of the vehicle may occur within twelve days after the debtor receives notice of non-payment. Additionally, Section 38-20-102 establishes that individuals entrusted to feed or care for pets can attach liens to animals for any amount owed for performing such obligations. Likewise, a hotelier or innkeeper can attach a lien to a guest's property found in the hotel or inn if the guest owes an amount for lodging in the establishment.
How Do You Know if a Property Has a Lien in Colorado?
There are primarily two types of liens in Colorado; voluntary and involuntary liens.
A voluntary lien is one that the property owner agrees to, like a mortgage. It usually involves a contract, and it does not affect the property's title or the owner's rights.
On the other hand, an involuntary lien arises due to an unpaid obligation, and a mechanic's lien is a good example. It affects the property owner's right, making the person unable to sell the property without settling the debt. A sale of such a property will not be approved, and no prospective buyer will want to purchase such a property with no clear title.
For voluntary liens like a mortgage, the property owner is aware of an existing lien on the property. If it is a tax lien for failure to pay taxes, it is an involuntary lien that arises by operation of law. However, Colorado state laws demand that the property owner gets a notice before the government forecloses on the property. There is also a mandatory publication in the local newspaper concerning the lien on that property.
A third party looking to purchase a property must first certify that the property has no lien attached to it. To do this, the interested party must contact the relevant authorities to run a search on the property. The county clerk's office where the property is located is an excellent place to start.
Property Lien Search by Address in Colorado
Property lien search in Colorado can be conducted at County Clerk and Recorder’s office or Treasurer’s office, where land records can be retrieved. Most recorders do not have online tools where a requester can conduct a property lien search by address. However, a person might be able to check liens on a property by using the property’s address by making an in-person request at the Clerk and Recorder’s office. In contrast, an inquirer who wants to find liens on a property by using the property’s address can do so online or in person at most County Treasurer’s offices.
Free Property Lien Search by Address
A record seeker who wants to check for liens on a property by using the property’s address can do so online at County Treasurer’s office for free. For instance, a person can check liens on a property online or in person at the Jefferson County Treasurer’s Office. An online property lien search in Colorado can be done by providing the property’s address number, street name, and type, unit number, city, or postal code.
What is a Tax Lien in Colorado?
A tax lien in Colorado is imposed by the state or local government on delinquent taxpayers. Per Article 25.5, Title 38, a public entity in charge of taxes can attach a lien to the real or personal properties of any resident owing tax.
The law requires the treasurer of the public entity to notify the property owner of overdue tax debts. If the debtor fails to settle these taxes, the tax authority will auction the property at a tax lien sale. All taxes are subject to liens, including sales and use taxes, withholding taxes, special fuels taxes, and gas taxes.
Tax Lien Lookup in Colorado
Tax liens are public records and are maintained by agencies in charge of land records. Hence, a Colorado resident can conduct a tax lien lookup at the Clerk and Recorder’s office in the county where the property is located. Alternatively, tax lien lookup can be done at County Treasurer’s office.
For instance, a tax lien lookup can be done online or in person at the Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder’s office:
Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder
5334 S. Prince St.
Littleton, CO 80120
Phone: (303) 795-4520
Fax: (303) 794-4625
Online tax lien search can be done by name, reception number, book/page, platted legal, or unplatted legal. For a name search, requesters can select lien as the document type option to narrow their search. Search results typically reveal information like:
- Document information like type, status, reception number, book, page, recorded date, number of document pages, and remarks
- Name information like grantor and grantee names
- Document image
What is a Mortgage Lien in Colorado?
A mortgage lien in Colorado gives a creditor the legal claim to any real property financed with a loan. Typically, the property bought or financed with a mortgage stands as the collateral, and the owner risks repossession if unable to repay the loan.
A mortgage lien provides the creditor with a way to recover debts from the proceeds of the property's sale. A mortgage lien is a specific lien and only applies to the real estate property bought or refinanced.
What is a Mechanics Lien in Colorado?
A mechanics' lien in Colorado allows contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, equipment lessors, laborers, and design professionals to file a lien to obtain payment for a construction project. Mechanics' liens can be filed against buildings, structures, or the lands upon which construction was carried out.
Colorado courts require individuals who want to enforce mechanics' liens to serve the property owner with a Notice of Intent to Lien ten days before filing in court. However, the mechanics' lien must be recorded within four months from the last time the claimants rendered services.
A mechanics' lien provides an option for aggrieved construction workers to get paid for their services. Generally, property owners will find it difficult to sell or lease buildings and structures having a mechanics' lien.
What is a UCC Lien?
A UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) lien is a general law that attaches liens to debtors' properties until they repay their debts. The Secretary of State handles UCC filings in Colorado. The counties also record UCC filings that affect the titles of real properties.
Interested persons can visit the Help and Resources page on the Secretary of State site to obtain more information on UCC filings in the state.
How to Conduct a UCC Lien Search
A UCC lien search can be conducted at the Colorado Secretary of State Office (SOS). This search can be done online using various search options. Online requesters should expect to access UCC lien information like document number, image, and type, record date and number, debtor and secured party’s names, and lapse date. Alternatively, interested persons can visit the SOS office to view or obtain copies of UCC lien records. The Office is located at:
Colorado Secretary of State
Denver, CO 80290
Phone: (303) 894-2200
What is a Judgment Lien?
A judgment lien in Colorado is issued according to the provisions of Section 13-52-102. Typically, a defendant's non-exempt properties are subject to a lien. The properties are liable to repossession and can be sold to pay the plaintiff. A judgment lien remains valid for six years from the date of entry unless the court clerk revives the judgment for another six years.
Voluntary Lien vs. Involuntary Lien in Colorado?
A voluntary lien arises when a debtor enters an agreement with a creditor to repay a loan or debt within a certain period. To secure payment, the debtor's property is put up as collateral with the debtor's consent. Failure of the debtor to meet the repayment plan will result in the property's repossession. Mortgage liens are an example of voluntary liens.
Involuntary liens do not require a property owner's consent; they are attached to the party's property. If the borrower does settle debts, the creditor can sell or seize the collateral asset. Examples include tax liens, mechanics liens, and judgment liens.
How Creditors Collect Payment Through a Lien
If a creditor records a lien against a property, such a creditor has a legal right over that property. As part of a court's judgment, one party is often mandated to pay money to the other. The court may issue a judgment lien to ensure compliance where the judgment debtor defaults. With a judgment lien, the creditor is paid the debt sum from the proceeds of the sale of the debtor's property.
How Do I Get a Lien Removed in Colorado?
There are different ways to get a lien removed, depending on the type of lien it is. For voluntary liens, a complete payment releases the debtor from all liability. In the case of involuntary liens like a tax lien, the relevant agency will send the debtor a lien release once the debt is paid off. A person that does not receive a lien release within 30 days of making final payment may call or write the agency for information regarding the notice.
Some types of lien like child support or mechanic's lien are not automatically released. Upon making the final payment, the debtor may request the other party sign a lien release as proof of complete payment. If the lien is on a property, the debtor may then take lien release to the county recorder's office to have the lien released.
How Long Does a Lien Stay on Your Property in Colorado?
The lifespan of a lien on a person's property in Colorado depends on the kind of lien. Under the Colorado Revised Statutes § 13-52-102, a judgment lien on a debtor's property will remain for six years before it expires. In some circumstances, the court may order offenders to make restitution payments to the victim of a crime. If the offender fails to make the payment, the court may place a restitution lien on the person's property according to the provisions of § 16-18.5-104 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. A restitution lien lasts for 12 years and may be extended in some instances.
How to Avoid a Lien in Colorado
The best way to avoid a lien in Colorado is to stay away from debt, whether from a personal agreement or a lawsuit. In the unfortunate circumstance that a person falls into debt, it is advisable to ask for a repayment plan and keep up with the payments. Failure to do this may result in the creditor filing a lien to recover the amount owed.
What is a Federal Tax Lien
Per IRC § 6321, a federal tax lien is the government’s legal claim to a taxpayer’s asset due to unpaid property taxes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does the following before attaching a tax lien on a person’s property:
- Assess the taxpayer’s liabilities per IRC § 6201
- Send the taxpayer a Notice and Demand for Payment within 60 days after assessment per IRC § 6303
- Seizes the taxpayer’s assets if they refuse to pay the tax debt in full within a given timeframe
The best way to get rid of a federal tax lien is to pay the tax debt in full. When that is done, the IRS will release the lien within 30 days of payment. Per IRC § 6322, federal tax liens remain on properties until the unpaid property taxes are cleared or the statute of limitation of the lien expires. Per IRC § 6502, a federal tax lien stays on a property for 10 years after a tax assessment.
What is a Lien Title?
A lien title is a lienholder’s legal claim to a person’s property. Individuals who finance their properties will likely have liens on the property titles. The lien remains on the title until the loan is fully paid off. Having a lien on the property title allows lienholders to take the lienee’s property and sell it to minimize their loss if the loan is not paid at the agreed time.
Where and How to Do a Title Search in Colorado
Real property titles are public records and can be accessed at County Clerk and Recorder’s offices. A title search can be done online or in person at the county where the property is located. For instance, the Kit Carson County Clerk & Recorder has an online tool where requesters can retrieve real property title information. Requesters can send applications by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to request online access or log in to the platform as a guest. Alternately, requesters conduct property title searches by visiting the Kit Carson County Clerk & Recorder’s office at:
Kit Carson County Courthouse
1650 Donelan Avenue
Burlington, CO 80807
Phone: (719) 346-8638 ext. 301
Fax: (719) 346-8721
Individuals seeking vehicle title records can make requests at the Colorado Department of Revenue Division of Motor Vehicles. A motor vehicle title search can be conducted online or in person at any of the County Motor Vehicle Offices. Online requesters should expect the Department to mail title records within 3 weeks of requests.