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How to Remove a fraudulent Lien in Missouri !

MissouriLien Releases

I terminated a real estate agent (using a lawyer) due to her doing very unethical things with my home. She put a mechanics lien on my home after we terminated her! She put a mechanics lien for her commission on our home and has put us in a financial crisis ! We cannot afford to hire a lawyer to get this removed but every lawyer has told us this was fraudulent to even do ! Is there a way we can represent ourselves to the judge or get a lien waiver ! It only costs her $5 dollars to place it will costs us thousands to remove !!

1 reply

Jan 15, 2020
The fraudulent use of mechanics liens is an awful practice, but owners will generally have a few options for attacking a questionable lien claim. Before diving in, this resource should be helpful: A Mechanics Lien Was Filed on My Property – What Do I Do Now? With that in mind, let's look at a few different topics here...

Who can file a Missouri mechanics lien?

Mechanics lien rights are generally only available to those who have provided some physical improvement to the property being liened but gone unpaid for their work. As you mentioned above, real estate agents quite typically will not be entitled to file a mechanics lien for their services. Plus, if there actually aren't any funds owed to the claimant, then they won't be entitled to a lien anyway - regardless of what work they did. It is worth mentioning, though, that not all invalid mechanics liens will automatically be considered fraudulent - there's a difference between fraud and an honest mistake. But, when a claimant clearly isn't owed payment, or if they have clearly performed work that doesn't give rise to lien rights, the chances that their lien is fraudulent will rise.

How to respond to an improper lien filing

For one, legal threats against a claimant will sometimes be enough to convince the lien claimant to remove their improperly filed mechanics lien. So, where there are obvious flaws with a claim, pointing out the areas which are issues and showing the claimant why their claim is faulty - or even fraudulent - may help. Generally, owners are entitled to serious legal remedies for mechanics lien claims that are fraudulently filed against their property - such as slander of title. And, those claims can produce serious penalties for lien claimants. Further, disputing the lien, yourself, via legal action may be possible. Individuals are generally entitled to represent themselves in court. So, an owner may be able to bring their own claim against the claimant. But, if possible, it'd be wise to get some input from a local attorney or legal aid group for more information on how, exactly, to bring that suit forward. If you can't afford to consult with an attorney or to seek out representation, here are some resources on legal aid groups that might be able to help: Missouri Pro Bono Programs, Legal Aid Organizations & Programs, Missouri Legal Services.

Other options that may reign in a fraudulent lien claimant

While these options might not directly challenge a lien claim that's been filed, they can affect the lien claimant and push them to do the right thing and release their lien claim.

Filing official complaints

Filing a consumer complaint with the attorney general's office can be a powerful tactic. And, that can make sure the claimant is held accountable for their questionable dealing. Further, if the claimant is a licensed real estate agent, filing a complaint with the Missouri Real Estate Commission could also work in a similar manner.

Leaving reviews online

Further, if their business is online, leaving damaging (but honest!) reviews can help as well. Leaving public reviews on sites like the Better Business Bureau, Google reviews, Facebook, or elsewhere online can help to warn others of the claimant's actions while also putting pressure on the claimant to resolve the dispute.

Bonding off a lien

Bonding off a mechanics lien can help to get the property title removed from the equation, but it won't just make the claim disappear. In any event, many owners find it to be a good option for liens filed against their property. Essentially, it involves securing a mechanics lien bond and filing it with the county. Then, once filed, the lien will be discharged from the title and the claimant will need to pursue legal claims in order to continue bringing the claim forward. More on that here: Primer on Mechanics Lien Bonds and Bonding Off a Mechanics Lien.

Waiting it out

It might not be the most attractive option, but note that waiting out a mechanics lien filing might be something that's on the table. Missouri mechanics liens must be enforced within 6 months from when they're filed. And, if a lien claimant doesn't bring a lien enforcement suit before that 6 months expires, then the lien will no longer be valid and enforceable. Practically, that means if an owner simply waits and the lien claimant fails to make a move on the lien, then the owner can potentially clear the lien claim by doing next to nothing (though, an expired lien claim can still linger in the property record). Of course, there's always the risk that the claimant will bring a lien enforcement suit and force the owner into litigation. However, when the claim is obviously flawed, or when there's reason to believe the claimant won't pursue legal action, it might be something worth considering.
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