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Real Estate Q&A: Lien Filed against Wrong Homeowner

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By Gary M. Singer

lien_on_home(MCT)—QUESTION: I recently learned that a company mistakenly filed a lien against our home. It’s clear that the company did not even check for accuracy. I contacted the firm, and it released the lien, but without written explanation. My wife and I are concerned that this may cause problems later and hurt our credit scores. Also, we had to spend a lot of time resolving this. Do we have any recourse against the contractor for this mistake?

ANSWER: County clerks will check submissions to the official records for proper formatting, but they don’t have the ability to determine whether the information is accurate. That can result in a lien being recorded against the wrong person.

While the clerks can’t remove erroneous liens from the public records, they will show the documents releasing the liens, and you should demand that the contractor also record an affidavit explaining the error. Because the lien was released, it will not affect your ability to sell the property.

To protect your credit scores, you should file a dispute with the major credit reporting agencies. While it may be possible to sue the contractor for this mess, it will be difficult to prove you have suffered actual monetary damages, a requirement for this type of lawsuit. But if this did actually cost you more than some time and aggravation, you should consult your attorney.

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar.

©2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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