Understanding Liens and Encumbrances on Residential Real Estate

When buying any piece of real estate, you will almost certainly have to have a title search performed to ensure there aren’t any types of liens or encumbrances on the title. People often work with a title company in order to perform these searches. While title companies often do a good job at discovering problems, there isn’t much that they can do to resolve them. In fact, they aren’t able to provide legal advice since they are not attorneys. You may be aware of the problem, but then feel stuck with the problem.

When you work with The Law Office of Enrique J. Fernandez, however, we can complete an in-depth title search, offer you legal advice, and take action to help solve issues before they cause you real problems.

Learn more about different types of liens and encumbrances that may be on a title, and how we can help you through any potential issues.

Traditional Liens

A traditional lien is put on a property when the owner owes debts to his creditors. If the owner doesn’t pay the debt, the creditors can force a foreclosure on the property in order to collect on the money they are owed. These liens need to be removed (after the debt is paid) or they can remain on the property itself, resulting in problems for the new owners. Potential types of liens include:

  • Mortgages
  • Tax Liens
  • Judgment Liens
  • Mechanic’s Liens


An easement is a type of encumbrance that grants one party the legal right to use property, or a portion of the property, without owning it. A common example of this would be if there is a shared driveway between two adjacent properties. When this happens, the main entrance to the driveway is on one person’s property, but the other property owner will have the legal right to use it to get to their own property. This type of encumbrance often won’t cause major problems to a real estate transaction, but you need to be aware of it as it could limit your options on things like building a fence or moving the driveway in the future.


When an improvement crosses over the legal boundary lines onto the adjacent property, it is known as an encroachment. Examples of this can include fences or even trees or branches that hang over the property line. If the current property owner has legally agreed to allow an encroachment (especially with something like a fence), that legal right will often remain after they sell the house. If this is going to cause issues with the buyer, an attorney can often negotiate an agreeable solution prior to the sale of the home going through.

Getting the Help You Need

There are many different types of liens and encumbrances that can be placed on a property. While the current owner of the property should know about them and disclose them, that doesn’t always happen. We can perform a comprehensive title search to identify if any of these exist, and if they do, take action on your behalf to ensure they are taken care of before you commit to buying the property. Contact us to discuss your situation and see how we can help you today.

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The Law Offices of Enrique J. Fernandez, P.A.

Enrique J. Fernandez is a trusted real estate attorney and title agent serving the people of Miami, Florida and the surrounding areas. If you or one of your clients is looking to buy or sell real estate, we are here to help ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible throughout the entire process.

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