Releasing a mortgage lien

Written by Joe Gentile Thursday, 01 April 2010

A lien is a legal claim against property that must be satisfied when the property is sold. The lien provides notice that the bank has a secured interest in the property and guarantees the bank that the property cannot be sold or transferred without either the loan being repaid or assumed.

Here are some commonly asked questions about mortgage lien releases.

How does a lien get released?

When a bank loan is paid off, a Release of Lien or Certificate of Satisfaction is provided by the bank and is recorded in the Land Records office to provide notice that the prior lien has now been paid in full and released from the property.

When I refinance, what is the lien release process?

In a refinance, the title company handles paying off the bank and is responsible for following up to make sure that the lien has been released.  Most title companies charge either a lien release fee, or include the fee as part of the settlement fee.

What about when I sell my house?

The same thing is true when a property is being sold.  The title company is responsible for handling the release since it has provided a commitment to the bank that the prior loan will be paid and released.

I just paid off my loan by writing a check; do I need to do anything else?

Yes, you need to make sure that the lien has been released.  Either the lender will send the release to the county or city Land Records office on your behalf and forward you the recorded release, or they will send you the recorded release, which you will then have to record.

I have an equity line with a zero balance.  Does that need to be released?

Just because your equity line has a zero balance does not mean that it has been released from the property.  You need to request for the account to be closed and for a release to be sent to you.

About the Author

Joe Gentile

Joe Gentile

Joe Gentile is an attorney at Federal Title & Escrow Company. He received his Juris Doctor from The George Washington University and is a member of the Maryland, Montgomery County and Italian-American bar associations. Mr. Gentile has practiced real estate law in the DC metro area since 2000.

Comments (6)

  • melissa


    13 February 2014 at 20:33 |
    i was gonna foreclose on my home due to owing 78,000$ and apprasing for 30,000 and house needed logs work. i left house, after 2 1/2 yrs they have releases the mortgage and and the lein. i paid the 2013 taxes, they are up to date. if i move back in after fixing it up to liveable standards, am i at risk for the mortgage company taking my house? Am i still obligated to pay the 78,000$


    • webmaster


      20 February 2014 at 17:15 |
      Hi Melissa: To answer your question properly, we would need to review the title to the property and speak to the lender. I would suggest that you speak to an attorney about the matter.


  • Mark


    13 March 2015 at 09:15 |
    Local DA's won't prosecute banks for filing of false documents. So...we are filing our own lien releases into the county records just like the banks file false assignments of mortgages. If the banks complain of our filings then we can point out their filings also.


  • David


    18 May 2015 at 10:38 |
    Original leinholder sold its rights to debt on my property to a third party.
    They then resold the note to another party. When the original lender sold the note, they failed to file a release of lien. They no longer have a financial interest in the property. Is there a standard way to force them to release the lien, and can I handle this through small claims court if they do not respond? Note value is about 3k. This is a Texas property.


  • Saj


    29 May 2015 at 08:34 |
    The title company wants in addition to lien release that work performed was paid and no liens , they also want all the invoices that were paid


  • Bill


    27 September 2015 at 19:59 |
    I just pre-payed a mortgage with Green tree servicing over 40 days ago. They will not send the certificate of satisfaction to the county until 11-26-15! They wont respond and are interfering with a partial land sale of the property. What can I do? Can I sue?


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