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Can a lien be put against my property title without me being notified and given the opportunity to contest it?

Middletown, OH |

I received a summons regarding a loan we took out for my husband's small business endeavor, which unfortunately failed. We fell behind on the payments, Beneficial involved their attorneys, we received a summons requiring us to serve the plaintiff's attorney with our answer regarding the complaint within 28 days, and we did exactly that. We made payment arrangements with the firm, gave some upfront money that satisfied Beneficial, and have not missed a payment since.

That happened around February 2011. In May 2011, a lien was put against our title. We NEVER received any notification of this or had any conversations with the legal firm regarding this happening.

Are they allowed to do this? Again, we have paid every payment to the firm on time as agreed. Please advise.

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

Hello, I'm sorry to hear about your situation. It sounds to me like Beneficial got a judgment against you in the collection case they filed, certified that judgment and filed it with the common pleas court in the county where your property is located. That being the case, it became a judgment lien vs. something like a mechanic's lien which you would have been notified about at the time it was recorded. Your notice of Beneficial's interest would have been the case they filed - if you filed an answer with the court and didn't take any additional action after that, Beneficial would have been granted a judgment which they can then use to lien your property without any supplemental notice to you. If you've been paying them, they likely filed the judgment to ensure they received payment in full. Once you've paid them off, they should file a release & satisfaction of that judgment lien. And to answer your question yes, they can do that. If you haven't already, I would suggest asking Beneficial for a reconciliation of your account to make sure they are properly applying your payments to the outstanding balance.

As you can probably tell, my answer is based on much speculation and I would need additional facts to give you a more definitive response. It is always good advice to consult with a real estate attorney in Middletown who can review the docket for Beneficial's original case against you and can see when the judgment was filed and for what amount. You can search for one on Avvo or contact your local bar association for a referral. I hope this was helpful, and best of luck to you.

I am licensed in the State of Ohio, posting a response to your question or issue does not create an attorney-client relationship and I AM NOT providing you legal advice. You should speak with an attorney who is licensed in your state to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights--or rights to recovery of damages.

Asker

Posted

Thank you so much for your response. I ended up calling an attorney yesterday who gave me a very similar answer. I did not correctly read the legal jargon on the summons: Said answer must be filed with this Court within three days after service on plaintiff's Attorney. I was under the impression that once I made the arrangements with the plaintiff, they would notify the court. I didn't read that as though I was supposed to follow through with the actual court. I thought contacting the plaintiff would stop all court proceedings. I am an educated woman with two degrees, and I had difficulty understanding the summons...I wish there was a copy in layman's terms accompanied with these summons with explicit directions on what the recipient needs to do, as I would have certainly done it. The attorney I spoke with yesterday alluded to the fact that while their procedure was legal (in terms of establishing the lien), it was not good practice, as we were working on making the situation right. I've talked to Beneficial and their attorney's office, and while sympathetic, they said they cannot release the lien until the debt is paid in full, thus not enabling us to refinance our mortgage then (which would have saved us $30,000 just in the next five years). It's just a bad situation all around. Again, I greatly appreciate your feedback and advise. Thank you so much.

Michelle Lynn Marshall

Michelle Lynn Marshall

Posted

You are most welcome.

Posted

I agree with the previous advice, it sounds like you have a certified judgment against you on the business loan that you likely personally guaranteed. I’m wondering if you possibly entered into an Agreed Judgment Entry with Beneficial and set forth the payment plan in the Agreed Entry. If so, did the Agreed Entry authorize Beneficial to certify even though you are current on payments? If the judgment lien is causing a problem such as affecting your credit or preventing you from refinancing, I would think since you are current on the payment plan that the Attorney for Beneficial may be willing to work with you on the lien.

I am licensed in Ohio & Kentucky, posting a response to your question or issue does not create an attorney-client relationship and I am not providing you legal advice. You should speak with an attorney who is licensed in your state to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights--or rights to recovery of damages.

Asker

Posted

In terms of the Agreed Entry, I'm not quite sure what that is. In looking back through the document that the title agency gave me, it looks like Beneficial responded to the court in March of 2011 with the terms of our agreement. It then shows a Certificate of Judgment issued a month later in April 2011. The title agency has the lien officially put on in May 2011. We had no idea there was a lien on our title until the mortgage lender brought it to our attention during the refinancing process. I did speak with a representative from Beneficial's attorney's office (Babcock and Wasserman); however, she assured me there was nothing they could (I'm thinking "would") do. We have not missed a single payment and will not miss a single payment. I do plan on writing to the attorney directly. I know as debt collectors they deal with a lot of people who are unwilling to cooperate and pay there debt; however, it is so frustrating that we are taking full responsibility, and they won't work with us. I even asked if they could take the lien off until the refinance is through and then put it back on, but the representative assured me they can't. The attorney I spoke to on the phone out of Columbus suggested I get a local attorney to try to work with Wasserman, but I don't know that we have the energy and money to put into that right now. He said it may be a long shot, as our attorney would likely need to play on how unethical it was to put a lien against our title despite the fact we cooperated and have paid faithfully from the moment they contacted us. We are already technically losing so much money through missing out on the refinance, that I hate to invest more money and gain nothing. Thank you so much, Joseph, for responding to my question. I appreciate your input and suggestions.

Joseph Luke Beyke

Joseph Luke Beyke

Posted

I would be happy to review the terms of the agreement that you filed with the Court - but my guess is there is no language prohibiting Beneficial from certifying the judgment. You are correct; they “could” do something to help you out. They could agree to a subordination agreement with your lender attempting to do the refinance. However, admittedly this is rare and they really have no incentive to do that. But, since you are current on your payments, you may run into a reasonable person that is willing to work with you.

Asker

Posted

Unfortunately, I didn't personally file anything with the court...Beneficial did. I was under the impression that through contacting Beneficial's attorney, they needed to be the ones to notify the court of the agreement since they pursued the case. That apparently was where I made my biggest error. Again, a summons needs layman's terms with it! I do have a document from the title agency that has a list of events that occurred, which does have the terms we agreed to over the phone with Beneficial's attorney. May I send that to you via an email?

Joseph Luke Beyke

Joseph Luke Beyke

Posted

Sure, I'd be happy to look at it. Again, I am not sure you have any real defenses, but you may be able to get them to work with you. My email is: jbeyke@mmfllaw.com

Posted

Looks to me like you have good advice about your situation. Time to settle down and work with one attorney, not three.

DISCLAIMER: The forgoing comment is for general educational purposes only, and is not legal advice upon which the reader may rely as the commenter has no actual knowledge of the facts of the case, has not interviewed persons or examined evidence, and has not researched the applicable law. The comment is based only on the facts provided, which are extremely limited, and may or may not be true. Complete defenses may prevent the success of any claim. Competent legal advice should always be obtained before taking any legal action or filing suit. Readers employ any information provided herein at their own risk.

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