Insights

Don’t Get Stuck in the Sewer, File a Municipal Lien Claim!

December 21, 2021

Municipal liens can be a powerful tool to not only recoup on unnecessary municipal expenses, but also to dissuade frequent offenders of municipal ordinances from doing so in the future. Once a municipality creates a rigid process to deal with these types of claims, they can be filed quickly with little to no additional expense incurred by the municipality. Before your municipality jumps head first into this process, here are some items to consider:

What is a Municipal Lien Claim?

A municipal lien claim is a municipality’s answer for a delinquent resident. If a resident has failed to pay water, sewer, or trash rates, or has failed to properly maintain their property in conformity with the municipality’s zoning ordinance (and that municipality has incurred a loss maintaining their property as a result), a municipality may file a claim for these losses in the court of common pleas of the county in which the property is located. A claim for municipal improvements must be filed within six (6) months of when the improvements were finished, otherwise, these claims must be filed within three (3) years.

Confirm property details

A municipality does not want to go through the time and effort in filing this type of claim, if their pleadings will be defective. Double-check the property owner details by checking deeds if necessary. Confirm property owner’s contact information for future notices. The municipality can streamline this entire process by obtaining correct property owner information early on.

Confirm that written notice of intention to file a municipal claim has been properly sent to the property owner

A municipality cannot file a municipal lien claim without affording the property owner a chance to rectify their violation. The municipality, at least one month before the claim is filed, must serve a written notice of their intention to file a municipal lien claim upon the property owner.

Determine if your municipality’s ordinance provides for a schedule of attorney’s fees

In the event that there is a challenge to the reasonableness of the attorney’s fees, a court, among other things, will take into account an established schedule of attorney’s fees. A municipality may not want to file a municipal lien for an amount less than what they will pay their attorney’s to properly file that lien.

Contact a law firm to file the municipal lien claim and all other mandatory notices

At this stage, the municipality has done everything they are able to do. As long as the municipality has documented the above-mentioned information, they should forward this information and contact a firm with experience in filing these types of claims.

Our firm has filed hundreds of municipal lien claims on behalf of municipalities across Central Pennsylvania. If you have any questions concerning these types of claims, or anything else, don’t hesitate to email Andy Miller (amiller@mpl-law.com), Douglas Myers (dmyers@mpl-law.com), Cory Dillinger (cdillinger@mpl-law.com) or anyone in our office with questions or comments.

Author: Cory Dillinger

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Attorney Richard Robinson of MPL Law Firm is not a member of the York Suburban School District, and is not affiliated with any YSSD employee with the same name.