Lawmaker wants to close property lien loophole

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A state legislator from West Michigan is working to plug a gap in state law that can put your property on ice, keep you from getting a mortgage and make you hire a lawyer — even if you are in the right.

Michigan law is clear: You have to have a builder’s license to file a lien on someone’s property, the purpose of which is to get them to cover unpaid bills. The loophole is that there’s nothing in the law requiring someone filing a lien to prove they are licensed. County officials with whom the liens are filed have no way to check that the filer is legitimate.

State Rep. Tommy Brann, R-Wyoming, is about to introduce a bill that would fix the problem. If adopted, the law would require contractors to prove they are licensed before a county official could accept their lien papers.

“There’s going to be proof and a picture ID,” Brann said.

Target 8 investigators exposed the law flaw in May after a Grand Rapids woman, Linda Scott, said an unlicensed roofer filed a lien against her dad’s home in a dispute over the work and the price.

A lien is a powerful tool. Attorney Bruce Courtade calls it the “atomic bomb of all enforcement actions, all collection efforts.”

“You can mess with somebody’s title to the house, prevent them from getting a new mortgage or sell the house,” he told Target 8 earlier this year.

You might have to hire a lawyer to fight it.

Brann said Linda Scott contacted him about the problem.

“She had to jump through hoops,” Brann said. “It just wasn’t just.”

Brann said his bill is “simple but very powerful.”

“This is going to be an easy bill to get passed through committees and get on the floor and go all the way,” he said. “It just makes so much sense.”

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