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Maine Alliance for Road Associations

The Chain lien letters

  • 18 Mar 2023 4:18 PM
    Message # 13136495

    Hopefully you all know that when you record a Notice of Claim, NOC, it is only for that term or terms the owner refuses to pay. It does NOT represent any FUTURE dues owed. 

    Our association generally but not always, performs the written notice procedures to record a notice of claim every other year. When a member doesn't pay their dues after the appropriate time frame from the written notice, we record a NOC on their deed (registry of deeds calls it as a lien).The next year, they refused to pay.

    Instead we will only record an extension on the NOC.  The following year (this is now 2 years since their first recording of a lien) the owner continues to refuse to pay. We send to the owner a written notice for the past and current terms owed and the total owed to discharge the previous lien. They refuse to pay. We record a NOC for the 2 terms currently owed and an extension for the previous NOC. 

    Over many years, the list on the registry of deeds gets huge; liens, extensions, liens plus extension and so on. It's like a chain letter of liens. Then suddenly, there's a surprise! The owner decides to discharge the total cost of all the liens. The registry of deeds charges extra fees for listing additional book and pages on a document.

    We record a discharge on the LAST book and page recorded (whether it's a NOC plus extension or just an extension). The fun fact is that the Registry of Deeds is not responsible for the expiration of any liens in their system. When we discharge the last document, it represents all the CHAIN of current and past liens. The Registry of Deeds will record the discharge on that last lien. Registry of deeds does not automatically discharge all the other past liens.

    The next event is like the breaking of a chain letter. I get people, banks, title companies, realtors and even Registry of Deeds calling me saying that the other liens are not discharged. My answer is yes they are, just like a title search, FOLLOW THE CHAIN OF LIENS thereby that one discharge, does in fact represent the discharge of ALL the past liens.

    An easier approach to all this madness, besides the obvious - PAY YOUR DUES, is to have a municipality lien. Thereby we just take the house and we don't have to record all those liens but I digress. Happy trails to the person in your association responsible for not breaking the Chain of Liens.

  • 19 Mar 2023 5:17 PM
    Reply # 13137426 on 13136495
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    John Cunningham, Feb 25, 2023

    You file a lien (Notice of Claim) for a particular debt. … Each year’s assessment is a new lien. You file a lien for something that happened 4 years ago. That event already happened. You got a lien for it. If you collect for that lien great; if not, and the lien or its extension expires, then that lien expires. But that doesn’t affect any of the other debts the person owes you. Each year is its own debt.

    The above statement, based on the recording of a meeting the MARA Board had recently with Attorney Cunningham, forms the basis for what follows.

    I am in charge of recording Notices of Claim (liens) against properties whose owners are delinquent in payment of assessed maintenance fees. Each assessed fee is treated as a separate entity associated with that particular parcel owner.

    We occasionally have Special Meeting assessments but most Notices of Claim result from the assessment approved by the owners at our Annual Meeting held in the third quarter of each year. Again, each assessment may lead to a new Claim (lien), followed entirely separately. Dates and records are important. I find errors hard to avoid so now have our Vice-President double-check my proposed Notices and Extensions. 

    Twenty-day notices requiring payment are sent Certified mail to the owner 60 days after the Due Date and at 90 Days after the Due Date delinquency begins and the Notice of Claim may be recorded.  Each Notice of Claim is extended within 18 months of recording the original Notice, then extended within 18 months of recording until payment is received. When paid in full, the Notice and associated Extensions are then released.

    It is my understanding that, after payment, each Notice and each Extension needs to be released by Book and Page number at the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds to clear the original Notice of Claim.  

    Last modified: 20 Mar 2023 7:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 20 Mar 2023 1:01 PM
    Reply # 13138335 on 13136495
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I hope both of you will submit your above comments with testimony to the State and Local Government Committee on LD 461.  If that makes their heads spin as it does mine, maybe they will approve LD 461's amendment that would extend the Notice of Claim to 6 years instead of 18 months.

  • 21 Mar 2023 6:30 AM
    Reply # 13139168 on 13136495
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I am surprised my reply made your head spin, Roberta. This was not intended. The points I wished to make:

    1. Each assessment is treated as a separate entity, 

    2. Dates and records are important, and

    3. Paid liens best be carefully released at the Registry ...

    These basics will not change with the passage of amended LD 461.

    Last modified: 21 Mar 2023 3:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 21 Mar 2023 8:37 PM
    Reply # 13140282 on 13136495

    Thank you, Sandy and Roberta for confirming my point: The NOC process for road associations is truly a head spinner! The excruciating details of dates, the extreme administrative paperwork, the maddening requirements to list the book and page numbers for the Registry of Deeds would drive any volunteer nuts. As a result of this level of frustration to comply with this current law, roads don't get repaired, assessment dues are wasted on the liening process and volunteers quit with no one else wanting to help. Hopefully there will be a way to break the curse of the chain lien letters. My dream is to see neighbors eagerly wanting to volunteer as an officer and board of director, roads repaired and assessment dues paid. 

  • 22 Mar 2023 8:24 AM
    Reply # 13140627 on 13136495
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Well said, Margaret.  Sandy, it wasn't so much your response that makes my head spin, it's the whole process, including the addendum to LD 461 that charts the number of filings that pile up for a long-term non-payer with the current 18 month expiration.  Here's hoping the Committee agrees to extending the period to six years, as that will greatly reduce the number of filings necessary.

  • 23 Mar 2023 12:55 PM
    Reply # 13142672 on 13136495

    I just want to put in my penny's worth here. I am neither for nor against the NOC process, past present or future.   Rather, I see  the predicament that non payers can be faced with when they are owners over-ruled by a majority that care about their own cost at the expense of other owners on a private road. Such as myself, explained in "No ROW = No benefit?" forum discussions.  

    The reason that someone is not paying, needs to be explored.  MARA is one sided about road maintenance assessments and the payment of same as absolute.

    There is very little to nothing that a non-paying owner can do to dispute an assessment determined by a majority if he or she feels they are not fairly assessed other than hiring a lawyer at great expense. Usually greater expense than paying dues over many years.

    My association is overcharging me at the pleasure of a silent majority who gain from my expense.  I am certain that I am not alone in the whole state that must bear the injustice from an unfair assessment but fair according to statute.

    With that said, I believe that T23-3101sec.1 to 5  needs a rewrite to prevent abuse by a majority like I am experiencing.   Thank You!

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