How to Check on a Lien on a House

••• tax forms image by Chad McDermott from

Liens are legal claims on property that are often the consequence of unpaid debt. The most common type of lien is the tax lien. These can be for federal or state income taxes, water and sewer taxes or property taxes. Liens can also be the result of unpaid medical or construction bills. All liens are legal, recorded documents. If you think you have a lien against your home, you can find out quite easily.

Review your house records before searching for the lien. You may have received correspondence from the owner of the lien. This correspondence may reference the book and page in which the lien is recorded. This information will be helpful when you being searching.

Write down all the pertinent information about your home. This includes all of the following: property address, owner names, previous owners' names, names of mortgage companies and the names of any vested owners. Bring this information with you when you visit your local Registry of Deeds office.

Go to the Registry of Deeds for the county in which your property is located. If the Registry has an electronic database that includes all recorded documents, use this system to begin a search. Use all the information collected in Steps 1 and 2 as keywords.

Find an abstractor who works at the Registry to help you with a search if there is not an electronic database. Give her all of the information you collected. She will physically search through the land records.

Review all documents that surfaced from your search. Typical recorded documents are mortgages, quitclaim deeds and warranty deeds. Look for any document that has the word "lien" in the title. This could be "Notice of Federal Tax Lien" or "Notice of Municipal Tax Lien."

Find the unpaid debt on the lien. This is the amount you owe to the creditor listed on the deed. Your house is in jeopardy if you have a tax lien. Contact the creditor or tax collector to arrange for repayment. Any unpaid lien can prevent you from selling your property.


  • Check your Registry of Deeds or Property Assessor's websites to see if they have online access to recorded documents. This may allow you to search for liens without having to go to the office.