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Connecticut Lien Search

A Connecticut lien search involves checking for any outstanding claims, liens, encumbrances, or other legal disputes on a property. It may be used to verify property ownership and the right to transfer interest in a property. It is a way to discover unpaid taxes, debts, and judgement on a property that could disrupt an uneventful possession of property or lead to future legal disputes. In Connecticut, liens are maintained by the Secretary of State and the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles. They are also managed alongside related Connecticut civil court records by state and county courts.

What is a Lien in Connecticut

While there is no specific definition under the Connecticut General Statutes on Liens (Chapter 827), liens generally connote a legal interest or claim over an asset or property held as collateral to repay a debt or loan. 

In other words, a lien is a security interest in a property. It grants the lien holder, or a creditor, a legal claim on a specific property the debtor owns. If the debtor fails to repay their debt or loan, the creditor can enforce the lien through legal action for repossession, foreclosure, or sale of the property to recover the debt. 

Types of Liens in Connecticut

There are multiple forms of liens in Connecticut per Chapter 847 of the Connecticut General Statutes

  • Federal liens
  • Federal tax liens
  • Mortgage liens
  • Mechanic’s liens
  • Tax liens
  • Vessel liens (on vessels not documented according to US maritime and admiralty laws)
  • Jewelers’ liens
  • Radio service dealers’ liens
  • Aircraft liens
  • Liens on real estate

The above list is non-exhaustive, as liens apply to different fields and categories of business in Connecticut. Nonetheless, liens may be grouped into broader categories depending on the property type, priority, nature of the right, and origin of encumbrance (mortgage, debt, loan). 

General Liens in Connecticut

A general lien applies to all real estate, personal property, or assets. Where an individual fails to repay a loan or debt, a creditor can petition the court to place a lien against a property they own. Furthermore, the creditor may enforce legal action to sell any or all of the debtor's assets until the debt is satisfied. Common examples of general liens include tax and judgement liens. 

Specific Liens

Specific liens limit the interests and rights of a creditor to a specific property. This protects the debtor's other assets from being sold or repossessed to satisfy a debt. Examples of specific liens are mortgages, aircraft liens, and vessel liens. 

Consensual vs Involuntary Liens

A lien may be consensual or involuntary. The difference between these two is whether the debtor’s consent was obtained beforehand. Mortgage liens are consensual liens. Here, the mortgagor agrees to pledge their property as collateral to the grantor to secure a loan. However, liens imposed on a property or asset following legal action to recover any unpaid property taxes or debts are generally involuntary liens. 

Statutory Liens

Statutory liens in Connecticut are liens created by federal or state statutes. Examples are liens established by Chapter 847 of the Connecticut General Statutes, such as tax liens, mechanic’s liens, and jewelry liens. These liens are regulated and enforced by law, not individual agreements. 

What is a Tax Lien in Connecticut

Tax liens in Connecticut may be imposed on all moveable properties, fixtures, lumber for sale, as well as farming and agricultural produce. When a taxpayer fails to pay tax due to the state, the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services or any other board or commission authorized by law may place a penalty or interest (lien) on the property of the defaulter after 30 days of non-payment (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-35a). 

Are Tax Liens Public Records?

Yes. According to the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act, tax liens are not exempt from public disclosure. The record custodians for lien documents are the county tax collector and the county clerk. 

Per Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-173, the tax collector in each municipality is required to make out and file a certificate of tax lien. The tax collector shall deliver it to the town clerk, who shall record it in the state land records. Certificates of continuance of tax lien are filed in the town where the real estate or property is located. 

The tax collector must also notify the property/real estate owner of the intention to file a lien at least 15 days before such lien is filed. Failure to notify the owner does not render the lien invalid (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-175). 

Connecticut Tax Lien Search

There is no state-owned central database for tax liens in Connecticut. Tax liens in Connecticut are usually recorded by either the town clerk in the area where the property is situated or the Secretary of State. According to the Connecticut General Statutes, tax collectors are required to deliver certificates of tax liens to the town clerks who record them in the state land records. 

Nevertheless, residents can perform a Connecticut tax lien search through any of the following sources:

  • Online: All town clerks maintain land record registries. While some make theirs available online on their official websites, others are only accessible through third-party search service providers. For example, Greenwich Town has a new Land Record Public Access Search System featuring property records, including outstanding tax liens and release of tax liens from 1800 till present. Searchers can sort through online search platforms using the grantees' or grantors' first or last names. Additionally, IRS liens are available on the Secretary of State's lien record search site. 
  • In Person: Persons seeking tax lien information may visit the town clerk’s office during business hours to look up land records in person. It is necessary to look through the specific offices' websites or call their phone lines before visiting to confirm if visits are strictly by appointment, what forms of ID may be required, and the rates of copying and certification fees.

Also, some offices' opening and closing hours may differ from visiting hours. For example, if the town clerk’s office is open from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, visitors may only be attended to from 10 am to 4:00 pm. Different rules apply to various establishments. 

  • Mail: Where this option is available, researchers may send a written request for copies of property tax lien records to the mailing address of the town’s clerk. The request must contain the sender’s name and address, contact information, subject of the request (property tax liens), property owner name and address, and the information the sender needs (number of copies, certified copies, etc), as well as check or money order payable to the agency. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope. 

Federal Tax Lien Search

Notices of liens on real property for taxes, costs, and damages payable to the United States government shall be filed in the office of the town clerk in the jurisdiction where the property is subject to federal tax liens (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 49-32a). 

However, notices of federal tax liens or other federal liens on personal property, tangible or intangible, shall be filed with the Connecticut Secretary of State. In this context, intangible property may be copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs, or other intellectual and industrial property rights. 

Therefore, a federal tax lien lookup in Connecticut may be performed at the websites or offices of the relevant town’s clerk (for real property) or Secretary of the State (for personal property). Interested persons may call, visit, or mail requests for records on federal tax liens affecting a property they own, wish to buy, or invest in. They may also search for tax liens on online land registries. 

What is a Lien on Property in Connecticut

A lien on a property is a claim, interest, or encumbrance on a property to secure unpaid property taxes or debts. A lien is a security interest in property that gives the lienholder a right to annex property in order to satisfy a debt or loan. 

A lien can be attached to either personal or real property. Personal property may be described as moveable property, such as vehicles, furniture, jewelry, clothes, boats, and electronics. On the other hand, real property refers to real estate or land and anything attached to the land. Examples of real property include buildings, houses, structures, machinery, and crops. 

Who can put a lien on a property?

A creditor, lender, mortgagee, or any person owed money or obligatory fees (tax) can put a lien over a property in Connecticut. These entities include: 

  • Individuals
  • Banks 
  • Financial institutions
  • Lenders
  • Contractors
  • Suppliers
  • Service providers (e.g., mechanics)  
  • Courts 
  • The Department of Revenue 
  • Authorized state or federal tax boards. 

How to put a lien on property in Connecticut

The procedure for filing a certificate of lien on a property may differ on a case-by-case basis. It may be based on the amount owed, a requirement of notice, or specific time frames. Generally, reasonable time must have lapsed between when a debt is due and when a creditor applies for a lien on a property. In other words, the creditor must give the debtor sufficient time to repay their debt or loan before placing a charge or encumbrances against their property. 

To put a lien on a property in Connecticut:

  • Ensure that the debt is reasonable, can be enforced as a lien, and is owed to you by the debtor and not a third party. 
  • Verify and confirm the property's address, the owner's name, and other legal descriptions of the property. Check Connecticut land records to see if there are previous outstanding liens on the property that may take priority over subsequent claims (If the current and prior claims are mechanic’s liens, the doctrine of priority will not apply). 
  • Where notice is required, file the notice of intention and serve the notice on property owners/debtors. 
  • File a lien certificate with the town’s clerk in the municipality where the property is situated describing the property, the address or other identification information, the amount claimed as a lien, and the property owner. 

For more specific procedures:

  • For a mechanic's lien to be valid after completing the services or supply of materials, the contractor or supplier must file a certificate of lien with the town clerk in the municipality where the property is located within 90 days after stopping all labor or supply on the property. The claimants must also serve notice to the property owner up to 15 days before filing, at the time of filing, or no later than 30 days after filing a lien. 
  • For judgement liens to apply, the judgement creditor must file a certificate with the town clerk to secure the debts to a specific property within four months from the verdict. 

How to Find a Lien on Property in Connecticut

Search inquiries for a lien on a property in Connecticut may be directed to the town clerk or the Secretary of State. The Connecticut Secretary of State keeps records of UCC financing statements, IRS liens, judgement liens, vessel liens, and aircraft liens. Researchers may look through the Secretary of States’ Lien Records Search website. 

Alternatively, interested persons may visit the clerk’s office in the municipality where the property is located to perform a property title search. However, a visit is not always necessary. Many town clerks provide online land records. However, printing or downloading copies of the documents may cost a fee. 

Property Lien Search By Address

To access online land records from Town or City websites, searchers may need to provide the property's address, and the full name of the owner, business, grantor, or grantee. Also, when conducting in-person searches at the town clerk’s office, the requester shall provide the address of the premises or other information that can help identify the specific record the searcher needs. 

Free Lien Search on Property

Individuals can perform a free lien search on property at any of the above agencies or resources. Fees are only applicable where the searcher requests copies of land records. 

What is a Mechanics Lien in Connecticut?

A mechanic’s lien is an interest created by statute. It furnishes a right of action for contractors and suppliers to secure and recover the value of labor and materials over $10 contributed to the development of a property, lot, or plot of land. 

Because the actual labor and materials cannot be extracted from a property when it becomes real property, the courts have provided a remedy against a property owner who has failed to pay for work done and materials supplied. 

A mechanic’s lien shall take priority over any other subsequent lien or encumbrances over the same land or property commencing after their services have been rendered. But, it shall not take priority over any other lien by a contractor or supplier on the same lot or property (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 49-33 (a)-(d)). 

Connecticut Mechanics Lien Search 

Just like other liens applicable under Connecticut Statute, notices and certificates of mechanic’s lien are recorded along with the deeds of the land by the town’s clerk in the city or town where the property is located (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 49-34)

Therefore, researchers may visit the clerk’s office in the city or town where the property of interest is located to conduct a record search in person or look through land indexes online provided on the official websites of town clerks. 

What is a Mortgage Lien in Connecticut?

A mortgage, by nature, is a lien. A mortgage is a loan used to purchase a home or borrow money from a creditor/mortgagee (bank) against the value of a home owned by the mortgagor. A mortgagee or creditor gives a loan to the property owner in exchange for a security interest in the property (collateral). This interest creates a lien over the property. If the borrower neglects to pay the mortgage after the agreed time, the lien gives the seller a legal right to take possession of the property and sell it to satisfy the debt. 

What is a UCC Lien in Connecticut? 

UCC liens, also referred to as UCC financing statements, are fed by lenders with respect to secured loans to businesses or corporations. They can be filed against any personal property within the state. UCC liens in Connecticut are regulated by The Uniform Commercial Code, which regulates UCC liens and other commercial transactions in the state. UCC liens are usually filed at the office of the Secretary of State. 

UCC Lien Search Connecticut

A Connecticut UCC Lien Search may be conducted at the Connecticut Secretary of State’s website:

  • Visit the Secretary of State “Business Services” website 
  • Select “All Business Services” at the top or side of the screen 
  • Under “Business Search,” select “UCC lien search”
  • Choose a search option: Interested persons can check for liens on a property by the debtor’s name (individual or organization) or lien number. 
  • Fill in the appropriate information and click search. 

The researcher may have to sort through a list of related search results to find the specific information sought. A search result will likely include:

  • Filing Information: Lien type, IRS number, filing type, filing number, filing date, lapse date, and number of pages.
  • Debtor Information: Name, address, and zip code of the debtor(s). 
  • Secured Party Information: secured party name and address. 

What is a Lien Title in Connecticut?

A title lien is a claim against a vehicle or vessel. In Connecticut, where there is a lien on a vehicle, the lienholder shall be registered as the legal owner, and the vehicle's owner will be listed as the registered owner in the title documents. The title documents to the vehicle will also be given to the lien holder. A lien title shall remain the legal title over the vehicle until the debt or other payments are cleared and discharged. 

Connecticut Title Lien Search

An individual can verify or confirm the title status of a vehicle in Connecticut by filing a request to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

  • Fill and complete the title copy request Form J-23T
  • Provide the make, year, identification number, and registration name or number of the vehicle. 
  • Provide a valid means of identification
  • Attach a check or money order for $20 payable to the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Requesters who want certified copies of title records must include an additional $20
  • Mail the information and papers to the DMV Copy Records Unit. 

Department of Motor Vehicles 

Copy Records Unit

60 State Street

Wethersfield, CT 06161. 

Free Title Lien Search in Connecticut

The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles does not offer free title search services. Interested persons. Interested persons may find the information they need on third-party search sites. However, there is no guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of the information obtained. 

What is a Judgement Lien in Connecticut?

Following a lawsuit filed for settlement of debt, the court will order the payment of money from one party to the order. To ensure the creditor gets his due, the court may declare an order for repayment of the loan or debt as a lien on the debtor's real or personal property. 

A judgement creditor attaches the judgement lien to secure the unpaid debt, including all interests and costs on any real property of the debtor, by filing a certificate with the town clerk where the property is located. The money judgement shall only apply as a lien over a specified property if the creditor files a certificate within four months of the judgement (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-380a).

A judgement lien may be enforced by a writ of execution and in the same manner as a mortgage, which is foreclosure, sale, or possession of property. 

Connecticut Judgement Lien Search

Researchers can find judgement liens on property at the Connecticut Judicial Case Look-Up and the Connecticut Secretary of State Lien Records Search. Individuals may also check for judgment liens at the court clerk's office where the judgment was given or request copies of the court records via mail. 

How to Get a Lien Release in Connecticut 

The procedure for getting a lien release in Connecticut may differ slightly depending on the type of lien involved. Here are some guidelines for securing a lien release for various assets: 

  • Pay off all debts or loans with the lienholder/creditor
  • Request a lien release letter: Submit a request to the lienholder for a lien release letter. This should include the subject's name, details of the asset (vehicle information, property address, etc), and proof of total payment. 
  • Obtain a signed and notarized certificate of lien release from the lien holder.
  • Complete and submit a Government Certificate of Release on Estate Tax Lien and property liens accrued upon receipt of public assistance (if applicable).
  • Submit the document of release/Certificate or release to the town clerk in the municipality where the property is located for recording.

Where a person loses title to their vehicle over a lien, they may get a release by following the steps described below. 

Submit an Application for Registration and Title Form H-13B (current Connecticut title) or an application for a duplicate title form H-6B, the letter for lien release, and a $45 fee payable by check or money order to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Submitting a H-6B form for a duplicate title attracts an additional fee of $25. All documents and payments should be mailed to 

The Department of Motor Vehicles

Specialized Registry Services, Room 305

60 State Street

Wethersfield, CT 06161.

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