Lien Release
Guide, Forms, & Resources

Did your mechanics lien get you paid? File a lien release before your state's deadlines to avoid potential penalties.
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Release a Mechanics Lien

What is a Lien Release?

Lien Releases, also known as “Lien Cancellations” or “Satisfaction of Liens,” can be a thorny and dangerous instrument, and unexpectedly so. Some states require that the lienholder release the mechanics lien after the claim has been satisfied or upon request, though most lien cancellations are filed by the claimant voluntarily and in exchange for payment or a promise of payment. In the states that do require a lien release to be filed, after satisfaction or the debt, or upon written demand by the owner, failure to do so can result in some steep penalties and liability.

Aren’t lien releases the same as lien waivers?

No. A lien release or lien cancellation is not the same thing as a mechanic’s lien waiver. Although many states refer to lien waivers as a “waiver and release” there is an important distinction. A lien release cancels or removes a filed lien claim from the title of the real property, while a lien waiver is used to waive lien rights before a claim is filed.

When to file a lien release?

The fact, however, is that the exchange of money for a release is delicate. Claimants want the money before a release, and owners, lenders, or general contractors want the release before the money. No one wants to give up their leverage. So, what to do? The simple answer is, never file a lien release until you have money in hand.

How to file a lien release?

The process for filing a lien release is relatively the same as filing the actual lien claim itself. This involves filling out the appropriate lien release form with all of the essential information, such as the lien recording information and dates, the property location, the owner of the property’s name, the lien claimant’s name, and so on. The requirements will vary slightly from state to state, so check with your recorder’s office ahead of time to be sure they will record the release. In addition to this, some states such as Michigan, require a copy of the filed release to be sent to the owner as well.

Lien Release Frequently Asked Questions

The mechanics lien process is complicated. And you're stressed about payment or some payment dispute. Here are some questions about the lien release process that may be on your mind. It will help you feel at ease knowing that you're doing the right thing for your business.

What is a lien release?

A lien release is a document filed with the county recorder's office that releases or cancels a filed mechanics lien. These are also known as "lien cancellations," "satisfaction of lien claims," "certificate of full payment of claim of liens," and other names.

Isn't a lien release the same as a lien waiver?

No, lien releases, should not be confused with a lien waiver. Although many states refer to waivers as "lien waiver and release," lien releases are used to cancel an already filed mechanics lien claim.

See: Lien Waiver vs. Lien Release: What's the Difference?

Why file a lien release?

Many states require a mechanics lien release to be filed once the debt has been satisfied. Failure to do so can result in fines and liability. Furthermore, even if the state doesn't require it, payment will typically be exchanged for a release; and failing to do so could still leave you liable to claims by the property owner.

Learn more about the lien release deadlines and penalties.

Do the rules and processes to file a lien release change according to the project location?

Yes, while the fundamental concept of a lien release does not change depending on the project location, the form, timeline, and (in some states) notice requirements can vary.

You can visit our Resources Page and click on your state for a full breakdown of all the rules and requirements.

When should I file a lien release?

A lien release should usually be filed after payment is received. In the states that require lien releases to be filed, the timeline can vary. The clock begins to tick either when the underlying debt is satisfied, or when a written demand to release the claim has been received.

You can visit our Resources Page and click on your state for a full breakdown of all the rules and requirements.

What happens if I make a mistake?

Making a mistake with preparing, filing, or sending notice of the lien release can have significant consequences. These can include fines, liability for damages, court costs, and attorney fees.

See Satisfaction or Bust: Lien Release Deadlines & Penalties in all 50 States

Can I refile a lien after it's been released?

Practically speaking; maybe, but likely not. If the deadline to file a mechanics lien hasn't expired yet you might be able to. However, many lien release forms include a statement declaring that the release is final as a result of payment.

See: Can I Re-File a Mechanics Lien After I've Removed It?

Can I file a partial lien release?

A partial lien release is only available in a handful of states; such as California & Oregon.

You can visit our Resources Page and click on your state for a full breakdown of all the rules and requirements.

State-by-State Map Of
Lien Release Deadlines, Rules, & Guides

What are the lien release rules in your state? The below map will give you an answer at a quick glance. Explore our lien release resources and guides more fully, which includes thousands of forms, charts, blog articles, and more, by clicking on the state you're interested in learning more about below.

  • Lien releases required by law
  • No specific lien release requirements

Lien Waivers vs. Lien Releases: What's the Difference?

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How Does It Work To Release a Lien with Levelset?

Getting your lien released with Levelset online is as easy as 1-2-3

Answer a Few Easy Questions

Answer a few simple questions about the lien you filed. This will take 10 minutes or less.

Your Doc is Assembled & Filed

Your document is assembled and filed with the appropriate recording office. All filing fees are paid for you and copies are sent to the appropriate parties.

You Get Notified

We'll let you know when the Lien has been released.

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