Small Violation Turns Into Over $114,000 Municipal Lien


If you keep up on our blog, you may already know that municipal liens are some of the most dangerous types of liens out there. Not only do they take precedence over the mortgage, but the amount listed on the lien is rarely the actual amount that’s due. Why is that? Because it’s common practice for municipalities nationwide to assess daily fines until the violation is corrected. Let’s take a look at this example.

In August 2019, the Town of Highgate in Vermont sent the homeowner a Notice of Violation regarding a breach of their solid waste ordinance. The letter states that if the violation is not cured within seven days, “the violation will continue for each offense, for each day each violation persists.” A fee of $100 per violation will accrue on a daily basis.
Despite the threat of looming violations, corrective action was not taken and the town issued another Notice of Violation in October 2020. At that time, the town asserted that fines have actively been accruing for the last 446 days and will continue to do so until the issues are remediated. At the time of the notice, the fees ballooned to $44,775.

At the time of this blog, the homeowner still has not corrected the violations nor made any payments toward the town’s fines which have now rocketed beyond $114,000. To make matters even more dangerous, municipal violations may not even been recorded in public records. For these reasons, we always recommend our clients order our Unrecorded Lien Search. This service provides any unrecorded municipal liens which a normal title search would not pick up, as well as includes the actual amount presently due.