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Tennessee Lien Search

A Tennessee lien search involves investigating and inspecting public records to ascertain any outstanding liens against a property or individual in the state. These public records are held by government agencies in the state, including county clerks and county assessors in Tennessee.

Lien searches in Tennessee are conducted for many reasons, including the following:

  • Verify the ownership of the property.
  • Guarantee that the property title is clear and free from outstanding debts or obligations.
  • Assess the risk associated with providing a mortgage against a property or purchasing such property and take steps to mitigate such risks.
  • Comply with regulations and contractual obligations.
  • Negotiate the purchase price or terms of the transaction based on the information obtained from the search. 

What is a Lien in Tennessee

In Tennessee, a lien is a legal claim on a property (real or personal) that serves as collateral for a debt or obligation the property owner owes to the lienholder. A lien can be placed by creditors, government agencies, or other parties to secure repayment. It represents a legal claim on a property that gives the lienholder a legal interest. If the property owner fails to settle the debt or fulfill the obligation, the lienholder retains the right to take legal action against the property owner. The action could potentially result in the foreclosure or the seizure of the property to recover the outstanding debt owed.

Note: Liens endure until the underlying debt or obligation is satisfied, released, or discharged. However, some types of liens have expiration dates or statutory limitations.

Types of Liens in Tennessee

In Tennessee, various liens originate from different circumstances, including legal proceedings, tax obligations, mortgages, and loans. The various types of liens in Tennessee include:

  • Mortgage Liens: Lenders exercise this type of lien to secure loans for real property purchases, granting them specific legal rights over the property in case of loan default.
  • Mechanics Liens: Contractors, subcontractors, or suppliers use these to ensure payment for labor or materials provided for property construction or improvements.
  • Judgment Liens: They arise from court rulings against a debtor. Judgment liens attach to the debtor’s real property, enabling the judgment creditors to collect amounts or obligations owed by selling the property.
  • Tax Liens: Governmental bodies impose these for outstanding property or income taxes, entitling them to claim the property until the debt is cleared.
  • HOA Liens: Homeowners’ associations create these liens for unpaid dues or assessments. It allows them to place a lien on the property and potentially foreclose to recover unpaid amounts.
  • UCC Liens: These occur when debtors pledge personal property as collateral for a loan, with the liens typically filed with the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office to secure the creditor’s interest in the collateral.

Liens can be broadly categorized based on different criteria, such as their nature (general or specific), how they attach to property (voluntarily or involuntarily), and whether their attachment is legally mandated.

General Liens in Tennessee

In Tennessee, general liens apply to assets owned by the debtor, including real and personal property. General liens provide the lienholder with the right to use any or all of the debtor’s assets as collateral to ensure debt repayment. Examples of general liens in Tennessee are judgment and tax liens.

Specific Liens

Specific liens are liens attached to a named or particular property (real or personal). They guarantee the satisfaction of the debt or obligation linked to the property. Examples of specific liens in Tennessee include deeds of trust and mortgage liens.

Consensual vs Involuntary Liens

In Tennessee, liens can be attached to property consensually or voluntarily (with the property owner’s consent) or non-consensually or involuntarily (without the property owner’s consent).

Voluntary liens arise from agreements between the property owner and the lienholder, where the property owner uses their property as security for the debt or obligation owed to the lienholder. Examples of voluntary liens are mortgages and title liens. Involuntary liens arise against the will or consent of a property owner. Individuals, business entities, government agencies, or courts can place them. Examples of involuntary liens are tax and judgment liens.

Statutory Liens

In Tennessee, statutory liens represent legal claims placed on property as mandated by law or specific statutes. These encumbrances do not stem from contractual agreements but are established by statutory provisions. The legal foundation for statutory liens in Tennessee can differ based on the type of lien and the particular circumstances surrounding its creation. Serving diverse purposes, statutory liens can arise in various contexts, including tax liens and mechanic liens.

What is a Tax Lien in Tennessee

In Tennessee, a tax lien is a legal claim imposed by the state or local government against a property owner’s assets for unpaid taxes. The Tennessee Department of Revenue administers tax-related matters in the state. According to Tennessee Code Annotated § 67-1-1403, a tax lien arises automatically when property taxes become delinquent. This lien gives the government the right to collect the unpaid taxes by seizing and selling the property, in accordance with the law, if the debt remains outstanding.

Tennessee law outlines the procedures for enforcing tax liens, including providing notice to the property owner and providing defaulters with the opportunity to pay the delinquent taxes before further action is taken. Additionally, the law specifies the priority of tax liens in relation to other types of liens, ensuring that government tax claims take precedence in certain circumstances.

Are Tax Liens Public Records?

Yes, by Tennessee Public Records Act (TPRA), tax liens are considered public records in Tennessee. When a tax lien is filed against a property owner for unpaid taxes, it becomes a public record. This means that information about the tax lien, including details about the property and the amount owed, is accessible to the public through the applicable channels, including the county clerk’s office, the county assessor’s office, and the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office. State residents can conduct searches to obtain and inspect such records. 

Tennessee Tax Lien Search

Conducting a tax lien lookup in Tennessee requires accessing public records maintained at the county where the property is located. Individuals seeking to perform a tax lien lookup in Tennessee may take the following steps:

Step 1. Identify the county where the property is located. In Tennessee, each county maintains public records relating to properties, including tax lien information.

Step 2. Contact the county clerk or county assessor. A county clerk maintains public records, including property transactions and liens, while a county assessor handles particular lien information in relation to property taxes and tax liens. Individuals interested in accessing tax lien information may request such information from the applicable county clerk or county assessor.

Requests may be made through any of the following options:

  • Online: Many county clerks in Tennessee provide online access to public records, including tax liens. Check if the county clerk provides an online search tool or database that provides tax lien information.
  • In person: You may choose to visit the county clerk’s office in the applicable county. Contact details and office hours can be found on the county’s official website.
  • Mail: A written request can be mailed to the county clerk’s office. The request should contain sufficient information to facilitate the search. This includes the taxpayer’s name, recording date, book and page number, document title, and any additional relevant details. You should indicate the type of copies (plain or certified) you desire, provide your contact information, and include payment to assist with processing the order.

Note: Some county clerks in Tennessee accept requests for tax lien information through email and fax. After the search is done and you receive the records, you can review the records carefully. Look out for any tax liens filed against the property and the relevant details, such as the amount owed and the taxing authority.

Federal Tax Lien Search

A federal tax lien is a legal claim the government has against the property of the owner who failed or neglected to pay taxes. Per the Internal Revenue Code § 6321, if an individual obligated to pay taxes neglects or refuses to do so after being given notice, the amount (along with any interest, additional amount, addition to tax, or assessable penalty, as well as any costs that may arise in addition thereto) shall be a lien in favor of the United States against all property and rights to property, whether real or personal.

Per the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) 5.17.2.3.2, federal tax liens relating to real property in Tennessee are filed in the county where a property lies and those affecting personal property are recorded in the county where a taxpayer resides. Therefore, if you are carrying out a federal tax lookup in Tennessee, you should visit, mail, search the online search tool or database, or otherwise query the county clerk’s office in the custody of the records.

Federal tax lien lookup can also be conducted using the IRS Automated Lien System database. Other options available are engaging a credit reporting agency, a title company, or a real estate attorney for a title search.

What is a Lien on Property in Tennessee

In Tennessee, a lien on property refers to a legal claim or encumbrance placed on the property (real or personal) by a creditor to secure the repayment of a debt or performance of an obligation. It serves as a form of security interest, allowing the creditor to seek recourse against the property if the debt is not repaid or the obligation is not performed as agreed upon or required.

Several types of liens can exist on property in Tennessee, including mortgage liens, mechanic’s liens, judgment liens, tax liens, and homeowner association (HOA) liens. These liens can arise from various sources, such as loans, unpaid debts, court judgments, unpaid taxes, or delinquent HOA fees.

Once a lien is placed on property in Tennessee, it typically remains in effect until the underlying debt or obligation is satisfied, released, or discharged. Failure to address a lien can result in legal consequences, such as foreclosure, property seizure, or forced sale, depending on the type of lien and the circumstances involved.

Who can put a lien on a property?

In Tennessee, various individuals or entities to whom the property owner has financial obligations have the authority to place a lien on the property. These entities encompass lenders, contractors, governmental bodies, homeowners' associations, and others.

How to put a lien on property in Tennessee

The procedure for placing a lien on property in Tennessee can vary depending on the type of lien involved, often entailing specific requirements and deadlines. It is advisable that you consult a legal advisor to ensure compliance with filing requirements. However, the following steps are generally followed:

  • Confirm ownership and prior liens: Begin by verifying the property ownership and checking for any existing liens through land records. This step is crucial for determining lien priority, which is usually based on the recording date.
  • Prepare applicable lien documentation: Draft the necessary lien document using the appropriate title depending on the type of lien (e.g., Abstract of Judgement for judgment liens, Claim of Lien for construction liens). Include essential details such as the debtor’s name, the amount owed, filing agency or party, and other relevant information.
  • File the lien document: Submit the completed lien document to the appropriate office. For real property liens, this would be the county clerk’s office in the county where the property is situated, while for personal property, it would be the Secretary of State’s Office. Depending on the situation, you may need to provide proof of service, an affidavit of non-known address, and a notice of lien on the debtor.
    Some counties may offer standardized forms for lien filings. Prior to submission, you should check the county’s website for any available forms.
  • Pay Filing Fees: Be prepared to pay the applicable filing fees, which can vary based on factors such as the county recorder’s policies, the number of pages being filed, and whether the office will notify the debtor(s) of the lien.

By following these steps and ensuring adherence to relevant legal requirements, individuals or entities can properly file a lien on property in Tennessee.

How to Find a Lien on Property in Tennessee

Liens are part of public records in Tennessee. There is no central repository for lien records in Tennessee. To perform a property lien search in Tennessee, you may need to request land records at the county clerk’s office in the county where the property is situated or where the debtor resides. The process of checking for liens depends on the county, but generally, requests can be made in person, by mail, or online. Requests for personal property liens are to be made to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office.

Alternatively, you can engage the services of a title company or a real estate company to conduct a title search. You may also obtain title insurance from a title company to protect against losses from title defects, including unknown liens.

Property Lien Search By Address

In Tennessee, government agencies typically do not index property liens based on the property address. Rather, they have standard search criteria such as the individual’s name, property file number, or document recording date to retrieve lien records. Hence, individuals seeking to check for property liens by address in Tennessee may encounter limitations in using government agencies' search parameters unless the county clerk provides an online tool that allows search by address.

Alternatively, individuals seeking to conduct property lien searches by address in Tennessee can use third-party websites. Many third-party websites offer address search options for users seeking Tennessee public records, including lien records, for a fee. These services provide an alternative method for individuals to search for property liens based on the property address, bypassing the constraints of government agencies' search parameters.

It is essential for individuals using third-party online services to consider the reliability and accuracy of the information provided. While these services offer convenience and broader search capabilities, users should exercise caution and verify the information obtained from third-party sources before relying on it for important decisions.

Free Lien Search on Property

Free lien search on a property can be done by visiting the county clerk’s office physically during business hours and requesting to inspect such records. Alternatively, a free search may be done using the online search tool or database provided on the clerk’s website, if available. The Tennessee Secretary of State provides a free UCC online search tool that allows residents to access information on liens on personal property.

What is a Mechanics Lien in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, a mechanics lien is a legal claim placed on a property to recover unpaid funds for the construction or improvement work done on a property. The Tennessee Code Title 66, Chapter 11 grants all contractors, subcontractors, material and equipment providers, architects, and engineers the right to file a lien on a property to recover unpaid money for the work done on the property. Such a lien must be filed per the law to be valid.

Mechanics liens serve the purpose of parties involved in construction projects with a security interest in the property they have worked on. This interest ensures they have a legal avenue to seek payment for their contributions to the construction or improvement of the property.

Tennessee Mechanics Lien Search

You can conduct a mechanics lien search by submitting a physical, mail, or online request to the applicable county clerk’s office where a property is located. 

What is a Mortgage Lien in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, a mortgage lien is a legal claim placed on a property by a mortgage lender as collateral for a loan extended to the property owner. When an individual secures a mortgage loan to purchase real estate, the lender typically establishes a mortgage lien on the property. This lien grants the lender the authority to foreclose on the property should the borrower default on the loan payments.

A mortgage lien provides the lender with a vested legal interest in the property until the loan is fully repaid. Consequently, it may restrict the owner's ability to sell or transfer the property without first settling the outstanding debt. Moreover, where the borrower defaults, the lender retains the right to initiate foreclosure proceedings, allowing them to seize and sell the property to recoup the outstanding debt.

What is a UCC Lien in Tennessee? 

In Tennessee, a UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) lien is a legal claim of interest over a person’s property as collateral for a debt owed. UCC liens are filed in Tennessee to provide notice to the world that a person holds an interest in another person’s personal property. It usually arises as collateral for a debt. UCC liens and filings are under the administration of the Tennessee Secretary of State.

UCC Lien Search Tennessee

An official UCC lien search in Tennessee can be done by carrying out an online information request (UCC 11) and paying the relevant service fee. You will need to provide your information and information about the search. There are different search tools to assist with limiting your search. Payment is made online using a credit/debit card or an e-check, and requested information is delivered immediately in PDF format.

You can also do an unofficial free search using the UCC Database Search. The search can be regarding an individual or organization.

What is a Lien Title in Tennessee

In Tennessee, a lien title refers to a vehicle title that contains a lienholder’s information. When a vehicle is financed or used as collateral for a loan, the lender or lienholder holds a security interest in the vehicle until the loan is repaid. As a result, the vehicle’s title, called a “lien title,” reflects this lienholder’s legal claim to the vehicle. Once the loan is fully satisfied, the lienholder releases their interest, and the title is updated to remove the lien notation, indicating that the vehicle is owned free and clear.

Tennessee Title Lien Search

In Tennessee, conducting a title lien search typically involves accessing records maintained by the Tennessee Department of Revenue and the county clerk’s office. If you are making a request through the Department of Revenue, call (844) 729-8689 (statewide) or (615) 741-7074 (Nashville area and out-of-state)

Alternatively, visit the county clerk’s office in the county where the vehicle is registered and provide information about the vehicle and its owner to assist with the search. You can also submit a written request and send it by mail to the county clerk’s office.

Furthermore, you can obtain title information of the vehicle from all states through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) to check the vehicle history.

Free Title Lien Search in Tennessee

You can carry out a free title lien search in Tennessee by visiting the county clerk’s office where the property was registered to inspect the records of the vehicle and its owner.

What is a Judgment Lien in Tennessee?

A judgment lien in Tennessee is a legal claim placed on the property of a debtor by a judgment creditor. This type of lien arises when a court grants a judgment in favor of a creditor in a lawsuit to recover a debt owed by the debtor. Once a judgment is obtained, the creditor may record the judgment with the county clerk’s office, creating a judgment lien on the debtor's real property located within that county.

The judgment lien serves as a security interest in the debtor’s property, giving the judgment creditor the right to seek satisfaction of the debt by foreclosing on the property or forcing its sale to recover the amount owed. Judgment liens in Tennessee can affect the debtor’s ability to sell or transfer their property until the debt is satisfied or the lien is released through payment, settlement, or other legal means.

Tennessee Judgement Lien Search

You can find judgment liens in Tennessee by making a request at the county clerk’s office in the county where a judgment debtor owns real estate. The request may be made in person, by mail, or online request, depending on the options made available by the county clerk.

If the judgment lien was filed against personal property, the appropriate authority is the Nevada Secretary of State. You can carry out an official information request (UCC 11) and pay the relevant service fee or an unofficial free search using the UCC Database Search

How to Get a Lien Release in Tennessee

You must satisfy the debt or obligation to get a lien release in Tennessee. Once the debt has been paid or obligation performed and the lienholder has been notified, the lienholder must file a Release of Lien form with the county clerk where the lien was registered.

Also, the property owner can file an action in court at the Chancery Court of the county where the property is located to compel the lien release.

How to Get a Copy of a Lien Release in Tennessee

To obtain a copy of a lien release letter in Tennessee, visit the applicable county clerk’s office during business hours and request the lien release letter of that property. You can also submit a written request by mail or email (if available). Some county clerks have online access to lien releases.

Note: There are copy fees for getting copies of lien releases in Tennessee.

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