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Iowa Lien Search

An Iowa lien search is the investigation made to discover any functioning liens on real estate and other property within Iowa. These searches are usually conducted by any individual or institution looking to buy or finance a property and help confirm there are no outstanding issues affecting the property's ownership or titles. Performing a lien search will help disclose record inaccuracies, bankruptcy, and fraudulent actions.

Lien searches for properties in Iowa can be made by performing a Case Search on the Iowa Judicial website or contacting your local County Recorders Office. Individuals can also contact an attorney or local title company to perform the lien search.

What is a Lien in Iowa

When a debtor fails to fulfill a contract obligation or defaults on a loan, a lien is a type of claim placed on the debtor’s assets. Liens in Iowa are governed under Title XIV of the Iowa State Code, which concerns property. In particular, chapters 570 to 584 detail different types of liens in Iowa. Some liens can be placed without a debtor’s consent; in some cases, the parties involved may enter a lien agreement voluntarily. Liens give their holder the legal right to claim or seize the agreed property or asset to repay a debt.

Types of Liens in Iowa

In Iowa, liens come about due to various situations, including court cases, taxation, property mortgages, agriculture, and loans. Examples of liens in Iowa include the following:

  • Mortgage Liens
  • Tax Liens
  • Agriculture/Crop Liens
  • Landlord Liens
  • Judgment Liens 
  • Mechanic Liens 

In general, liens can be grouped based on different criteria, such as their nature, if mandated by law, or how they relate to the property.

General Liens in Iowa

General liens in Iowa are applied to all property that a debtor owns, not just real estate. A general lean will cover houses, vehicles, land, and other assets. Using a general lien, the lienholder can use any or all of the debtor's assets to repay the debt. Examples of general liens are Judgment, tax, and landlord liens.

Specific Liens 

Specific liens are liens that, as their name implies, only apply to a specific type of property or asset. These types of liens are filed to secure payment for services relating to that asset. Some examples of specific liens include crop liens and mortgage liens.          

Consensual vs Involuntary Liens

Liens can be attached to property and assets consensually/voluntarily or involuntarily. When a lien is applied with the asset owner’s permission, like during a lien agreement, it is a consensual lien. Examples of this include landlord liens and mortgage liens. On the other hand, when a lien is imposed on a debtor’s property without their consent, it is an involuntary lien. This includes judgment and tax liens imposed by courts or the government without the debtor's approval.

Statutory Liens

Statutory liens are authorized by state law and are automatically applied when the condition is met. They are like involuntary liens and do not require the debtor’s permission or approval. Mechanic, tax, and judgment liens are all examples of statutory liens.

What is a Tax Lien in Iowa

Under Iowa Code Chapter 422.26, whenever a taxpayer refuses or neglects to pay a tax, including the amount, interest, addition, or penalty on said tax, the costs plus any addition accrued becomes a lien in favor of the state on all property and property rights whether real or personal belonging to the taxpayer in question.

These records can be classified as general and statutory, attached to the taxpayer's property as soon as the taxes become due and payable. A tax lien will generally remain attached to these assets until the unpaid taxes are redeemed, even if the property is sold or otherwise transferred.

Are Tax Liens Public Records?

In Iowa, Tax liens are considered public records subject to disclosure under the Iowa Public Record Law. These liens are usually filed with the county recorder where the property is located. Members of the public may access tax lien information as public records by contacting the record or using any online public record databases. Unless the lien is released or discharged, it remains on the property for ten years from when it first activates. Tax liens can be extended by filing a record of notice with the appropriate county office.

Iowa Tax Lien Search

Tax liens in Iowa can usually be found by contacting the Recorder in the county where the taxpayer resides or where the lien was filed. Different state government entities file these liens, including the Iowa Department of Revenue, Iowa Workplace Development, and various tax departments of counties and municipalities. Each office maintains its systems for records access, including the following:

In-Person Requests

Individuals can visit county recorder offices to inspect or request copies of tax lien records. Requests can be made during regular office hours, varying by county. Requesters or their representatives may visit the offices to search for records. Search and copy fees could be associated with requests for tax lien records in Iowa.

Mail Requests

Record seekers can send in a written request to the recorders via mail. The request must contain enough relevant information for the record to be located. This information must have the taxpayer's name, the date of filing the lien, and any other information necessary for the search. The requester must also include their contact details and payment for the record, usually in the form of a check or money order payable to the county recorder. Requesters can call ahead of the request with any questions or payment inquiries. Most county recorder websites, such as Iowa tax liens, will contain mail-order details for public records.

Online Requests

A lot of county recorder office websites in Iowa provide access to an online database or land records index. Visitors to the website can use this feature to look up tax liens online for free. For example, the Land and Records Management office in Woodbury County is responsible for recording and maintaining real estate records, including tax liens, and providing record look-ups via their online index book.

Federal Tax Lien Search

Under Chapter 331.609, federal tax liens are the government’s claims against assets and property when someone defaults on or fails to pay their tax debts. Federal liens must be filed and recorded in the recorder's office in the county where the property subject to the federal lien is located.

A federal tax learn search refers to a public record search where someone looks up outstanding federal tax liens. These searches can be made against an individual's taxes or a third party.

Any individual conducting a federal tax lien look-up in Iowa may contact the relevant county recorder office in person, by mail, by phone, or online. The Iowa Secretary of State's office also provides access to an online Federal Liens Search on their website. It should be noted that tax liens remain in effect indefinitely until the taxes are paid or the lien is otherwise cleared.

What is a Lien on Property in Iowa

A lien on a property in Iowa can be defined as an encumbrance or legal claim on a property in the state used as security for a debt. Property refers to any tangible, intangible, or mixed item an individual or entity can possess. Real estate or real property includes empty land, homes, buildings, and structures, plus any improvements added to them. On the other hand, personal property accounts for all tangible or intangible items apart from real estate. These include vehicles, electronics, business inventory, and other assets.

Who can put a lien on a property?

Any person owed money or some other responsibility or obligation by a property owner in Iowa can put a lien on a property. Liens can be attached to a debtor’s property by creditors, including contractors, subcontractors, courts, tax authorities, landlords, and financial institutions.

How to put a lien on property in Iowa

The process for putting a lien on a property in Iowa will differ based on the type of lien to be filed. Some liens activate automatically, while others require the debtor to be given prior notice before the filing. In some cases, the lien must be posted within a specific time. It is advisable to contact a legal counsel and confirm Iowa’s filing requirements in advance. However, following the process is quite straightforward:

Step 1. Locate the debtor’s property and verify their ownership. It is also prudent to perform a lien search on the property to check if there are other liens on the property. The priority of the liens will determine how creditors are paid in the case of a property sale or foreclosure. Priority is usually determined by the type of lien and the time of filing.

Step 2. Prepare the correct lien document. For example, mechanics lien, tax lien, or judgment lien statements. These lien statements will differ depending on the type of lien. In some cases, preliminary notice may have to be given to the property owner. The lien statement should contain all relevant information, including the filer's name, the debtor’s name, the legal description and address of the property, and the amount owed.

Liens for personal assets outside real estate in Iowa require the United Commercial Code(UCC) financing statement. It details the creditor and the debtor and indicates the personal property being used as collateral for the debt.

Step 3. Submit the completed lien statement for filing. Liens on real estate are filed at the county recorder's office in the county where the property is located. On the other hand, liens on personal assets, including electronics, motor vehicles, and other movable assets, are filed with the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.

Step 4. Pay the required filing fees. The filing fees may differ based on the size of the lien and if notice has to be sent to the debtor. After paying the fees, the office records the document, making it public.

How to Find a Lien on Property in Iowa

To find liens on properties in Iowa, the best place to start is by searching public land records at the County Recorder’s office where the debtor lives or where the property is located. Liens of personal assets can be looked up at the Iowa Secretary of State's Office, where such liens are submitted and recorded.

Record seekers who need help searching for a lien on a property may contract a title company in Iowa to do so. Title companies specialize in research involving public records that concern real estate, including liens, judgments, and other encumbrances attached to a property's title.

Property Lien Search By Address

Requesters in Iowa can request property lien searches at the County Recorder's office where the property is located. Record seekers can visit the county recorder’s office in person or mail a request with information about the property, including the address. Some recorders also have an online database where requesters may look up property records, including liens. For example, the Polk County recorder provides an online Real Estate and Land Record search portal where individuals can search property liens by addresses in the county.

Free Lien Search on Property

Free lien searchers are available in Iowa by visiting the county recorder's office during regular office hours or using various online indexes on some county recorder’s office websites. Many county recorders in Iowa County provide free access to search their document database for free. The Iowa Secretary of State also provides a search portal for federal and UCC-certified liens for free.

What is a Mechanics Lien in Iowa?

A mechanics lien or construction lien in Iowa is a claim placed on a property that secures payment for materials or labor for building and improvements on any land or building.

Under Chapter 572 of the Iowa Code, persons who provide material or labor for construction or repair work may place a mechanic lien on a property to secure payment for materials provided or labor completed. This type of lien can be filed by general contractors, subcontractors, and any other person who works internally or externally or furnishes material for construction.

Mechanic liens against property could allow the person claiming the lien to receive payment from a sale or, in some cases, sell the property. According to Chapter 572.18 of the Iowa code, in most cases, mechanic’s liens posted on a construction shall be superior to all other liens attached to the property after the construction begins.

Iowa Mechanics Lien Search 

Mechanics liens searches in Iowa involve the same steps as searches for other liens in the state. Requesters may simply visit the county recorder’s office where the property with the lien attached is located. They simply have to request an office public records search on the mechanics lien there. The Iowa Secretary of State also provides the online Mechanic's Notice and Lien Registry, where individuals may search for mechanic liens and notice of such liens. 

What is a Mortgage Lien in Iowa?

A mortgage lien in Iowa is created when a property owner enters a mortgage agreement with a lender using the mortgage as collateral/security for loans to purchase or finance real estate. It is considered a voluntary lien, as the property owner must agree to the lien agreement. If the property owner fails to repay the loan, a mortgage lien allows the lender to file a petition in court to seize or sell the property. Payment on a mortgage lien is usually prioritized based on the dates they were filed and recorded.

What is a UCC Lien in Iowa? 

A Uniform Commercial Code(UCC) lien is sometimes known as a UCC financial statement or security interest. This type of lien is a legal claim that gives creditors interest in the personal property of a debtor as security for payment of debts or other financial obligations. This lien usually involves movable assets other than real estate, including office inventory, electronics, vehicles, and equipment. In Iowa, UCC liens are filed with the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.

UCC Lien Search Iowa

UCC lien searches in Iowa must be requested via the Iowa Secretary of State office, where they are filed and recorded. Record seekers may visit the official website of the Iowa Secretary of State. Next, navigate to the page with the UCC and Federal Liens Search tool. Simply select UCC from the options and enter other criteria for the search, either by person, business, or filing number, then enter lien status, the subject's name, the business name, city, filling number, and so on. By default, the search will present results for liens that have not reached their lapse date.

Search results will include the subject's name, address, file number, filing date, lien details, and lien lapse date.

What is a Lien Title in Iowa

A lien title in Iowa is a lien held on a motor vehicle held by a financial institution or individual as a result of unpaid car loans. The lien will remain on the vehicle until the loan attached to it is paid or redeemed. If the borrower continues to default on the loan debt, the lender has the right to repossess or seize and sell the vehicle to clear the debt.

Iowa Title Lien Search

Checking a vehicle’s lien status is part of the due diligence car buyers should do to ensure a car’s title is clear of any debt. Doing this will reassure the buyer and expose errors, dishonest behavior, or anything issues that could lead to the vehicle being seized or repossessed.

The Iowa Department of Transportation(IowaDOT) allows requesters to request vehicle title research and records from their office. If requesting vehicle title records of another person's vehicle, the subject’s written permission is required by law. To make a title research request from the IowaDOT follow the following steps

  • Download the request form
  • Complete and sign it 
  • Include a photocopy of a valid driver’s license or non-driver ID
  • Include payment of $5 per record request. This search fee must be paid even if no record is found
  • Mail the completed form, copy of ID, fees, and written consent if necessary to

Systems and Administration Bureau

Iowa Department of Transportation

P.O. Box 9204

Des Moines, Iowa 50306

  • Free Title Lien Search in Iowa

Title searches for vehicle title liens can be made by contacting the IowaDOT in person or by mail. However, as of 2024, the Department of Transportation does not offer residents free title searches for vehicle liens.

What is a Judgment Lien in Iowa 

In Iowa, judgment liens simply refer to legal claims that are placed on a debtor’s property as a result of court judgments. In Iowa, after an individual wins a lawsuit with a monetary judgment, a judgment lien may be placed on the debtor's property to ensure the debt is paid. This lien ensures a debt is secure by attaching it to the debtor's personal property or real estate. Judgment liens make it hard to sell or transfer property ownership if the judgment has not been satisfied.

After obtaining the judgment, the creditor must obtain a transcript from the court clerk where the judgment was entered. The creditor must file the judgment at the recorder’s office in the county where the debtor’s property is located and pay any required fees. The judgment lien will be created and attached to the property when the county recorder's office records the judgment. In Iowa, judgment liens normally remain for ten years from the date the judgment was entered and can be renewed for additional ten-year periods.

Iowa Judgement Lien Search

To conduct a judgment lien search in Iowa, requesters must identify the county where the judgment was heard. The request must then visit the county recorder’s office of the relevant county and conduct a judgment lien search. A request can also be made via mail to the county recorder. For an accurate search, requesters must provide information such as the debtor’s full name and address of the property with the lien.

In most cases, inspecting the records will be free, but creating records may require a small fee. Requesters can also make an online electronic court docket record search for judgments on the Iowa Judicial Branch website.

How to Get a Lien Release in Iowa 

An Iowa lien release document is a document that clears or removes a lien from a property. The best and most recommended way to release a lien is to clear whatever debt or obligation that created the lien. Listed below are a few simple steps to obtaining a lien release.

  • Contact the lienholder and pay off the debt or otherwise clear the obligation the lien is related to. In some cases, such as a mortgage or mechanics lien, the debt may need to be paid off to the creditor in full.
  • After paying off the debt, obtain a lien release document from the lienholder. The document must be signed and state that the lien has been cleared and is no longer attached to or encumbering the property.
  • Next, take the lien release document to the county recorder's office, where the property is located. Have the county recorder record the lien release officially to remove the lien from the property’s title 
  • Obtain records of the lien release for future reference and, if necessary, report details of the release to credit reporting agencies.

It should be noted that it is possible to release a lien via lawsuit under certain circumstances, especially if it has been wrongfully or unfairly placed on a property. The property owner may file a lawsuit in court to obtain an order to release the lien. This more strenuous and time-consuming method will involve legal counsel, litigation, and additional costs such as attorney and filing fees. The burden of proof will be on the property owner to prove that the lien should be removed.

How to Get a Copy of a Lien Release in Iowa

To obtain a copy of a lien release letter in Iowa, record seekers can stop by the county recorder’s office and submit a public record request. This request can be made during normal office hours and at the county recorder's office, where the lien release letter was recorded and filed. Most county recorders' offices allow requests to be submitted in person and by mail. Some offices also have the option for online, email, and fax requests. It should be noted that requesters will be charged a copy fee for any required physical copies of the record.

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