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Colorado Lien Records

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.