If you have never heard of a super lien, do not be surprised. Many home and property owners do not understand the implication of the “super lien” until it comes time to sell their home or property. Liens usually occur following a violation filed against real property. This happens when the city believes there is a breach in laws or codes, such as allowing construction without a permit or causing disturbance after hours.
If the violation is not acknowledged or fine is not paid, a lien is placed to secure the debt payment or resolution to the issue at hand. A super lien is a statutory lien that is superior to all others, in that once it is placed against a property owner, it occurs on all properties within that county the individual owns. Those properties cannot be sold once the lien is in effect, and the price to remove it can be very steep if not handled immediately. On top of what is already owed, a super lien may also include late charges, interest, and fines. This can be hundreds to thousands of dollars a day.
Neglecting these fines could result in a foreclosure, except in the case of a homestead. A homestead is protected against forced sale by law. This does not include implications like title defects associated with a super lien. If the property owner cannot pay the full amount of the lien, they may be required to hire an attorney to negotiate a release or an affordable amount. This means higher closing costs when selling the house, and a release or “no action” letter from the city attorney must be obtained beforehand, which would indefinitely delay the process.
Many have noted the inconveniences of the super lien, and in 2011, Senator Jack Latvala proposed a Senate bill that would have made code enforcement liens similar to judicial liens in the case of a homestead, where the owner is able to file with the local court and wait for a response from a judicial creditor. His proposal was replaced with a new bill that did not allow for the expedited release of code enforcement liens. As of now, there is no easy fix for the resolution of a super lien. If your property or properties may be affected by a super lien, contact us at Gulati Law to see what your options are and how to keep it from preventing the sale of your home. We have helped many sellers and buyers of residential and commercial property clear these liens to conduct a successful closing.