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Arkansas Lien Records

What is a Lien in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, a lien is a legal claim against a debtor's property to secure the repayment of a debt. Liens ensure that money lent out to a loanee is guaranteed through the repossession of one or more of the debtor's properties after a payment default.

When filed against a debtor's property, a lien compels the debtor to pay off a debt to clear their property's title. There are primarily two types of liens; consensual or voluntary lien and non-consensual or involuntary liens. There are also judgment or statutory liens which are distinguished by the circumstances under which the lien agreement was made. Whichever the case, liens can only enforced by judicial orders which are issued by Arkansas courts.

Types of Lien in Arkansas

A lien is an important legal tool for a creditor or lender in Arkansas. It allows the creditor to collect a debt through the sale or repossession of the property.

There are different liens that creditors can place on debtors' properties and assets. They include judgment liens, tax liens, warehouse liens, UCC liens, mechanics liens, agricultural liens, child support liens, towing liens, and mortgage liens. However, all liens are categorized as voluntary or involuntary and specific or general.

The primary distinction between a voluntary lien and an involuntary lien is that the former requires the debtor's consent while the latter does not. Essentially, for a voluntary lien to be formed, the debtor must undertake an action that legitimizes the lien — for example, taking out a home (mortgage) or car loan. Meanwhile, the right to attach an involuntary lien to someone's property is given by law, not the debtor's consent. The usual reason for attaching such a lien is because an individual failed to pay off certain debts (e.g., taxes) or fulfill other financial obligations. Examples of involuntary liens include property tax liens, judgment liens, and mechanics liens.

On the other hand, a lien is said to be "general" when it affects all properties owned by the debtor and "specific" when it only affects a particular property. In most cases, specific liens are voluntary liens, and general liens are involuntary liens. However, this rule is not absolute. One outlier is the mechanics’ lien, which is both specific and involuntary.

What is a Property Lien in Arkansas?

A property lien refers to an interest secured through a debtor's property to ensure that such borrower pays for service rendered on the property or debt owed by the owner of that property. It is a type of lien enforceable by the state's law.

Types of property lien include mortgage lien, tax lien, mechanics lien, and materialmen lien. A petitioner must meet certain conditions before property liens can be binding. Some of these are;

  • If the property is residential, the contractor needs to provide a Pre-Construction Notice to the owner before work commences. Failure to do this might put the lien in jeopardy.
  • If the property is commercial, the claimant must notify the owner and contractor no later than 75 days from the last day of working on the property.

How Do You Know if a Property Has a Lien in Arkansas?

Liens are public information in Arkansas. Hence, it is easy to determine if a property has a lien in the state. Real estate investors, home buyers, lenders, and other parties who want to uncover liens can search public records held in the circuit clerks' offices across the state or the Secretary of State's office.

Persons who cannot expend the time and effort necessary to perform such searches or who wish to conduct a more in-depth search can hire an attorney or title company instead.

How Do I Check for Liens in Arkansas?

Interested members of the public can check for liens in Arkansas by querying the local circuit clerk or the Secretary of State.

Each circuit clerk maintains records of liens filed against real estate. The circuit clerk to ask for such records is the one whose office is located in the same county as the property of interest. Apart from visiting the circuit clerk's office during business hours to research records, requestors may also check the clerk's website for a searchable land records database.

Sometimes, the researcher may require a username and password to access a clerk's online database and a fee per page or subscription to view, print, and download images. For instance, the land records databases of The Faulkner and Benton County circuit clerks' require these. In other cases, the researcher can view record indexes and images at no charge, but a fee might be required to print document images. Examples include the Saline County and Washington County circuit clerks' databases.

Bear in mind that not all clerks offer such services. For instance, the White County Circuit Clerk does not have an online records database. As a result, going to the circuit clerk's office in person is the only available option. Better yet, the requesting party may call the clerk's office to find out if mail requests are accepted.

On the other hand, the Arkansas Secretary of State maintains filings against personal property. Hence, individuals can search for those liens via the agency's UCC System. Requestors may download the complete UCC database. However, the researcher must be a INA (Information Network of Arkansas) subscriber to access both services.

Persons who wish to obtain official copies of documents can mail, hand-deliver, fax, or email a completed Records Request Form to the SOS. Copies of documents cost 50 cents per page and certification costs $5. For fee inquiries, contact the SOS’s office at (501) 682-3409 or (888) 233-0325.

Free Lien Search in Arkansas

In Arkansas, free lien searches are available at the offices of the circuit clerks. Also, some clerks maintain public records and indexes online from which interested parties can retrieve information about a property lien without paying money. Date retrievable from such sites include:

  • The filing date and time
  • Names of the debtor(s) and creditor(s)
  • Type of lien
  • File number
  • The owed amount
  • Number of pages in the document
  • Scanned document images

What is a Tax Lien in Arkansas?

An Arkansas tax lien is a type of statutory lien imposed on an individual's property for failing to pay tax to the Arkansas state government. This does not necessarily mean the government will sell such property. If the individual pays the government what is owed or comes up with an arrangement to repay, which is agreeable to the government of the state of Arkansas, such lien will be lifted from the property.

However, if, after some time, the individual does not pay the tax owed, the government may then proceed to seize the asset for sale. In Arkansas, the Commissioner of State Lands has the responsibility of reclaiming tax by selling seized properties or attempting to buy such properties. A tax lien may arise from failure to pay property tax, income tax, estate tax, and even gift tax. A tax lien reflects on an individual's credit record and negatively affects credit scores.

What is a Mortgage Lien in Arkansas?

A mortgage lien results from purchasing a property through a loan while using the same asset to secure the loan. If the borrower defaults on payment, the lender is legally allowed to take the property as repayment, according to Arkansas Code 18-49-103. It is a voluntary type of lien as the mortgagor willingly agrees to the lien as a way of securing the loan.

However, it is different from other types of property lien like a tax lien, mechanics lien, or judgment lien. Firstly, a mortgage lien is voluntary, while the other liens, like a property lien, are enforced by law or a judge. Also, the terms of a mortgage lien are straightforward, while other non-consensual property liens can have complicated terms.

What is a Mechanics Lien in Arkansas?

Mechanic lien was introduced initially as a form of protection for builders, tradespeople who were called mechanics. In Arkansas, Following Arkansas statutes 18-44-101, a mechanics lien is a legal claim filed for an unpaid public project such as construction work, labor, and material supply. The laborers or material suppliers who did not get paid for construction or building work can file a mechanics lien to lay claim on the property worked on.

A property lien is a lawful claim on assets that allows the holder to obtain a property following unpaid debts. A property lien differs from a mechanics' lien in that a property lien grants property repossessing on assets such as a car or a house if the owner defaults on mortgage payments. In contrast, a mechanics lien addresses unpaid labor and material costs related to construction projects.

What is a UCC Lien?

The Universal Commercial Code (UCC) is a set of regulations overseeing commercial practices within the state. Furthermore, unlike mechanics lien laws, the UCC liens or filings are a form of collection rules that provides the lender the opportunity to lay claim on a defaulter's personal or business property recorded as collateral during the filing.

Construction workers and material suppliers mostly use UCC liens to guarantee payment when providing credit to clients. The protection by a UCC filing is for goods or products bought, and it applies to contractors, depending on the type of work done. If most of the contractor's contract is to supply materials with a modest quantity or small amount, the UCC filing applies. However, if most of the agreement is for installation and others, then a mechanics lien is the best approach. To file for UCC lien in Arkansas, an interested individual must be a subscriber. The acknowledged method of the UCC filing system is an electronic charge against a checking account.

What is a Judgment Lien?

A judgment lien in Arkansas gives the creditor the option to receive a specific amount of money from the sale of a debtor's property after a court-approved settlement. After the court's verdict, the Judgment liens automatically stay on properties. A judgment lien in Arkansas stays active on an indebted person's property for about ten years, even when the property ownership changes. Judgment liens are documented on real estate such as land, condos, and houses in Arkansas.

Voluntary Lien vs Involuntary Lien in Arkansas?

A voluntary lien grants a lender access to a property that acts as collateral due to the owner's default on payments. In a voluntary lien, the property owner consensually gives the lender a legal claim to the property for debt or services delivered. Commonly, mortgages are voluntary liens. An involuntary lien is a non-consensual claim approved by the court on a property due to unpaid debts. In an involuntary lien, property owners lose claim to the property until the final payment. An example of an involuntary lien is a tax lien.

A voluntary lien involves a mutual agreement between a lender and a borrower. In contrast, an involuntary lien is forced, and the property owner will lose claim to the assets due to the court order.

How Creditors Collect Payment Through a Lien

In Arkansas debtor may not sell or refinance their property until the associated debt is paid. In some scenarios, the lien can cause the debtor to lose property to creditors and prevent the party from getting a job or credit. Furthermore, liens stick to properties regardless of the property's ownership, and they hardly get discharged in bankruptcy proceedings. Hence, by attaching a lien to someone's property or assets, a creditor secures their right to collect payment from unwilling or insolvent debtors.

How Do I Get a Lien Removed in Arkansas?

A property owner can remove liens in Arkansas by paying off the underlying debt, including interest and costs. Other than this, the individual will have to challenge the lien in court or wait for the lien's statute of limitations to lapse.

Asking the court to release a lien involves proving that the lien was established by illegal means or using improper procedures. Also, while certain liens expire after some time, Arkansas law usually allows lienholders to extend the duration of their liens.

How Long Does a Lien Stay on Your Property in Arkansas?

Liens often stay on a debtor's property until a debt is repaid. However, because some liens are established by law, they may expire once the time allotted for enforcement passes — even if the debt is unpaid. For example, a tax lien or judgment lien is valid for 10 years from the filing date, while a mechanics lien expires in 15 months in Arkansas. However, most statutory liens can be renewed before they expire.

How to Avoid a Lien in Arkansas

The most practical way to avoid a lien in Arkansas is to pay back creditors on time, as promised, or as legally mandated. Failing to fulfill one's financial obligations or inform creditors of late or delayed payments is what causes a lien to be attached to a person's property.