Avinger, TX asked in Real Estate Law for Texas

Q: If a property deed has a lien that was not paid 30 years ago can the lien holder still legally repossess the property?

I am interested in purchasing some acreage that the deed shows a 30 year old lien that was not paid off. I was told there is a statue of limitations on this issue.

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1 Lawyer Answer
John Michael Frick
John Michael Frick
  • Frisco, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: You need more information as to the nature of the lien itself. For example:

The statute of limitations to collect a debt is four years from the date that the debt became due. A typical mortgage loan was once 30 years. A mortgage lien or deed of trust (which is often called a lien) may very well have been filed 30 years ago when the loan was made, but the last payment may have just been due recently. So four years would not yet have passed.

A broker or appraiser's lien has a ten year statute of limitations from the date the lien or a subsequent renewal notice was recorded.

A mechanic's and materialmen's lien has a one- or two-year statute of limitations depending on certain factors.

A tax lien basically never expires because our government entities are powerful and say so.

Your best bet is to get a buyer's title insurance policy if and when you purchase the acreage. The title company will then bear the risk, but most likely will do title curative work to "clear" the lien. You may very well discover that the debt underlying the lien has, in fact, been paid off but the lender simply failed to record a release of the lien.

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