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Vendor's Lien Explained: Secure Your Property Sale with Confidence

A vendor's lien is a legal claim against a property by a seller for unpaid purchase money. It ensures sellers can recover funds if a buyer defaults. Intrigued by how this affects property rights and sales? Discover the implications and protections a vendor's lien offers.
Charity Delich
Charity Delich

A vendor's lien secures a seller's interest in a property until the buyer completes payment, acting as a pivotal safeguard in property transactions. According to Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute, a vendor's lien is particularly significant in real estate deals, ensuring sellers can reclaim their property if a buyer defaults on payments.

Repossession rates for automobiles, often subject to vendor's liens, can reach as high as 1 in 5 for subprime loans, underscoring the lien's role in personal property sales. Understanding what a vendor's lien entails empowers buyers and sellers to navigate the complexities of property transactions confidently.

A vendor’s lien may refer to a claim that is held by a seller on real estate, which will allow the seller to repossess the property.
A vendor’s lien may refer to a claim that is held by a seller on real estate, which will allow the seller to repossess the property.

The laws in a particular jurisdiction generally dictate what kinds of property can be secured by a vendor’s lien. Some common categories of liens include those required by jewelers, banks or other financial lending institutions, dry cleaning and laundry service companies, and storage facilities. An automobile mechanic may also take out a vendor’s lien on a vehicle if a customer fails to pay repair bills.

An automobile mechanic may take out a vendor’s lien on a vehicle if a customer fails to pay repair bills.
An automobile mechanic may take out a vendor’s lien on a vehicle if a customer fails to pay repair bills.

A vendor’s lien usually prevents a borrower from selling or transferring title to a property until the title has been cleared. Essentially, the property remains the seller’s until the borrower has completely paid it off. The existence of a vendor’s lien is ordinarily reported on a borrower’s credit report. If a borrower defaults on a payment, his or her credit score is usually lowered.

Dry cleaning and laundry service companies may be secured by a vendor's lien.
Dry cleaning and laundry service companies may be secured by a vendor's lien.

A vendor’s lien can be discharged once the borrower remits all outstanding payments to the seller. Once a borrower satisfies a lien, he or she no longer owes the seller anything. The borrower should, however, require the seller to sign a written document evidencing that the lien has in fact been satisfied. Depending on the type of lien, the borrower may need to record a satisfaction of lien document with a government office. This is particularly common for liens involving real estate.

A purchase money mortgage, or seller financing, is a type of vendor’s lien in which a seller has the right to repossess a piece of real estate from a delinquent buyer. It is commonly used when a buyer has poor credit and cannot secure a loan from a bank or other lending institution. With a purchase money mortgage in lieu of, or in combination with, borrowing money from a lending institution, the buyer takes out a loan from the seller. Most of these mortgages are secured by a deed of trust from the buyer to the seller. If the buyer fails to make his or her scheduled payments, the seller generally has the right to bring foreclosure proceedings against the buyer.

FAQ on Vendor's Lien

What is a vendor's lien?

A vendor's lien is a legal claim that allows a seller to retain a security interest in a property until the buyer pays the purchase price in full. This type of lien ensures that the seller has a form of collateral if the buyer defaults on payment. It is particularly relevant in real estate transactions, where the property itself serves as security for the unpaid balance.

How is a vendor's lien created?

A vendor's lien is typically created by contract or through operation of law. In many jurisdictions, the lien arises automatically when a property is sold on credit, and the full payment has not been made at the time of sale. However, the specific requirements and formalities to establish a vendor's lien can vary by region, so it's essential to consult local laws or a legal professional for guidance.

Can a vendor's lien be enforced if the buyer resells the property?

Enforcement of a vendor's lien after the property has been resold can be complex. Generally, if the original buyer resells the property without paying off the original debt, the vendor's lien may still be enforceable against the property in the hands of the new owner. However, this depends on whether the lien was properly recorded and the laws of the jurisdiction in question. It's advisable to seek legal advice in such scenarios.

What happens to a vendor's lien if the buyer declares bankruptcy?

If a buyer declares bankruptcy, the vendor's lien is treated as a secured claim in the bankruptcy proceedings. The seller, as a secured creditor, has priority over unsecured creditors when it comes to the distribution of the buyer's assets. However, the specifics can vary based on the type of bankruptcy filed and the applicable bankruptcy laws, so it's important to consult with a bankruptcy attorney for precise information.

Is a vendor's lien the same as a mechanic's lien?

No, a vendor's lien is not the same as a mechanic's lien. A vendor's lien is related to the unpaid balance on the purchase price of a property, while a mechanic's lien is a security interest granted to contractors, laborers, or suppliers who have provided labor or materials to improve a property. Both serve as a legal claim against the property but arise from different circumstances and are governed by different statutes.

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Discussion Comments

anon171676

Scammer! that's not a friend.

anon82651

To whom it may concern. I have a question for you. My son has encountered a friend who is trying to get him to trade a vehicle with him.

My son has a free title with his car and his friend has what you call a salvage title. He is telling us that he can't find the owner of the other vehicle.

His friend has also told us that all he would have to do is go get paper tags every month which is 25 X 12= 300. That is way too much. He is 18 and I think he is getting taken for a ride. What do you think. Thanks

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    • A vendor’s lien may refer to a claim that is held by a seller on real estate, which will allow the seller to repossess the property.
      By: pyzata
      A vendor’s lien may refer to a claim that is held by a seller on real estate, which will allow the seller to repossess the property.
    • An automobile mechanic may take out a vendor’s lien on a vehicle if a customer fails to pay repair bills.
      By: olly
      An automobile mechanic may take out a vendor’s lien on a vehicle if a customer fails to pay repair bills.
    • Dry cleaning and laundry service companies may be secured by a vendor's lien.
      By: gui yong nian
      Dry cleaning and laundry service companies may be secured by a vendor's lien.