CONDUCTING A “LIEN SEARCH”

When examining records in connection with purchasing a lease (either from a lessor or an existing lessee) and preparing a report or an opinion, an important question to be answered is whether the lands or interests are subject to any liens which burden or encumber the mineral or leasehold interest to be leased or purchased.

Lien claims may not contain property descriptions, but only a party’s name, but the lien is deemed to attach to property owned by the party (a person or company) once it is recorded or filed of record.  If no property description is contained in a lien, indexes or tract books maintained by abstract or title companies, indexed by property description, may not include a reference to the lien claim.  It may only be indexed in an alphabetical (or “general”) index maintained by the abstract or title company.

Some County Clerk’s offices maintain separate books (and indexes) for different types of liens.  The general grantor/grantee indexes of documents filed in the county’s Deed Records, Mortgage or Deed of Trust Records, Official Public Records, Oil and Gas Lease Records, or Miscellaneous Records, may not identify liens that have been filed.

When examining records, it is easy to overlook liens which may not be identified in the county clerk’s general indexes, or a title or abstract company’s tract books or indices.

Following is a checklist of different types of liens that can give rise to a claim on or against an individual or company’s interests in lands or leases.  When examining records, it is suggested you determine, from the clerk, where all these categories of liens are indexed, to verify that none are overlooked.

1.         Abstract of Judgment.

2.         Deeds of Trust/Mortgages.

3.         District Court Suits.

4.         Federal Tax Liens.

5.         Lien Affidavits (including Mechanics and Materialmen’s Liens).

6.         Lis Pendens (or Notice of Lis Pendens).

7.         State Tax Liens.

8.         Ad Valorem Tax Liens.