FAQs: Municipal Lien Searches, Estoppel Certificates, and Property Information Reports

Property Debt Research offers services for professional title companies, real estate lawyers, financial institutions, investors, and individuals who need to research real estate in Florida and Nationwide. We receive many questions from our customers and visitors. The following frequently asked questions and answers will provide you with a good deal of knowledge about our company and our industry. However, if you do not find the answer to your question, we welcome your call at 877-543-6669 or if you prefer you can email us using our online contact form or Chat service (see chat icon at the top of the page). Click on arrows to right of question to expand content.

What is a municipal lien search?

A municipal lien search checks with the municipality the property is located in to see if there are any unrecorded outstanding debts or issues on the subject property. Our standard search checks for real estate property taxes, code violations, permit issues, special assessments, unpaid water/sewer/garbage balances, and any other city/county debts.

What is PDR's general turnaround time for municipal lien searches?

On average, 98% of our municipal searches statewide come back within 4-5 business days for Florida searches. We do everything we possibly can to prompt the cities to return the information back to us as soon as possible. Once we receive the information we complete the file and send it to you the same day.

What parts of Florida does PDR research/service?

Property Debt Research provides research on properties throughout every city and county in Florida!

Is my PDR search guaranteed?

Yes, we guarantee our work 100%. We also back up this guarantee with a $1 million E & O Insurance policy.

Why should we use PDR instead of conducting our own in-house searches?

Each of the municipalities across the state have a multitude of ever-changing debts they can assess on a property from many different departments. If you miss just one, you may be at risk for thousands of dollars of unrecorded liens and assessments! PDR has decades of experience in researching properties statewide for this information. We have very quick turnaround times for our searches and guarantee our work 100%. We back up this guarantee as well with a $1 million E & O Insurance policy. Our low fee and services provide you with peace of mind!

What is PDR's cancellation policy?

We offer a 100% Cancellation Policy!
100% Cancellation Policy Exceptions:

  • Boca Raton, Coral Gables, Coral Springs
  • Client is limited to a maximum monthly cancellation of 30% of files in that month.
  • *Rush Searches where additional fees are paid to obtain the turnaround
  • Updated Orders
  • Multiple Folio Searches
  • Team Metro Letters/DERM Letters/Zoning Letter
  • Estoppel Searches
  • O&E Reports – Noncancellable
  • Commercial Orders – Noncancellable
  • Bulk orders of 20 properties or more

*Unless canceled before money has been sent or otherwise agreed upon.

What is PDR's pricing?

Property Debt Research’s pricing is based upon a standard search fee plus any actual charges (hard costs) from the municipalities, management companies, attorneys, etc. The hard cost fees are passed through to you on your invoice with back up support that allows you, our client, to see how the total invoice cost was calculated. Please click here to receive our price sheet.

Does PDR provide monthly billing statements?

Yes, monthly statements will be sent on or about the first of each month detailing any unpaid invoices on the account. Please note all invoices are due at closing or 90 days from invoice date, whichever comes first.

Does PDR research both residential AND commercial properties?

Yes! We perform research on all properties whether they are commercial or residential.

Do I need to do a municipal lien search on a condominium or condominium unit?

Yes! There have been many instances in which we have seen violations or permit issues exist on an individual unit of a condominium.

Do I need to do a search on vacant land?

Yes! Even though there might not be a structure on the property, there could still be outstanding special assessments, code violations for junk or lot mowing, or even permits that were applied for that still remain open.

If the property is not a foreclosure or short sale, do I still need to do a municipal lien search?

Yes! Although the property may not be in foreclosure, the owner may still be behind on their municipal or association bills. You may also find a situation where the current owner was not aware of an outstanding permit or code issue on the property, thus resulting in it being missed. It is highly advisable to get a municipal search done by PDR on any transaction your firm is involved in.

Can PDR help with payoff information on recorded liens that show up on a standard title search?

Yes, as one of our services, just send us the information from your standard title search and we can help you attain the actual payoff amount.

Will all liens appear on the PDR report?

Your standard title search should be referred to for a search of all recorded liens. PDR provides research for debts on the property that are not yet recorded with the municipalities.

What is a city assessment or special assessment?

Many cities/counties have special assessments that are levied against a property. Most times, these assessments may be paid off in intervals on the annual tax bill (until paid in full) or may have the balance due in full when there is a transfer of ownership. Our office determines which assessments need to be paid off at closing and alerts you to the balance owed. Examples of assessments levied by a municipality may be street lighting or paving.

What does lienable vs. non-lienable mean in regards to utilities balance information?

A lienable utility balance is one that will remain with the property regardless if there is a transfer of ownership. A property may have a utility account with an outstanding balance on it (which was opened by a previous owner on the property) which will now become the responsibility of the buyer if it is not resolved and/or paid off prior to closing. A non-lienable utility balance means that the utility company will send the account holder to collections to recoup the monies owed on the account. Not all utility companies in Florida act the same, which is why it’s important to know if a balance is lienable or non-lienable to the property.

What is an open code violation and why do they need searched?

An open code violation is an issue on record with the municipality for existing violations, citations or other enforcement matters pertaining to the property. Some of the most common violations we see reported by the city/county are: lot mowing, unsafe structures, property maintenance violations, animal service violations, and abandoned vehicles. Due to the fact that these violations are not yet recorded liens, they will not appear on your title search or in public record. If these property issues are not found and corrected, they may be subject to large fines with daily accrual, or the municipality may even have a lien placed on the property. It is imperative a search be done for any outstanding code issues on a property to avoid these situations and to ensure the buyer takes ownership to the property free and clear.

What is an open/expired permit and why do they need searched?

An open or expired permit is a permit that has been applied for or opened with the building department but has not yet received its final inspections and been closed out. Any permits that are not properly closed with the building department can often have fees associated with resolving these matters and can result in a delay in closing. In many cases, a contractor must be hired to come out to the property to confirm the proper work associated with the permit was completed to their standards, and only then can the permit can be closed out. If the work was not done sufficiently, then the steps needed to bring it up to code will need to be performed. Many times there are significant costs incurred to do this. In addition, if a permit issue is not resolved it can turn into a code violation with the municipality as well.

Does PDR conduct lien searches on owners (past/present)?

Our research is done based on the specific subject property address. Although the property’s owner (and the previous owner, if applicable) is provided to the city or association when the research is requested, our searches are based upon the specific property.

Does PDR research judgment liens or governmental liens in FL?

Our search pertains to the debts held by the city that are lienable to the property. Consequently judgment, government or contractor liens would be outside of the scope of our search.

When do I need an HOA Estoppel letter?

If the subject property is a member of a homeowners or condo association, then CLICK HERE-HOA Estoppel.

What is PDR EZ Order?

PDR EZ Order is our Property Debt Research Customer Portal software.

PDR EZ Order Customer Portal allows our customers to:

  • Submit New Orders and/or Update Existing Orders
  • Track & View Status of all Orders Submitted by Your Company
  • View Report of Completed Searches Daily
  • Download Completed Invoice & Summary Reports

Call 877-543-6669 ext. 219 to set up your account and get your ID and password today. Or place your first order here and an account will be set up for you and you will be given access to PDR EZ Order!

PDR EZ Order

PDR EZ Order, customer portal, is the process by which clients of Property Debt Research can readily order their searches 24/7! The quick and easy online order form makes placing Municipal Lien Search and HOA Estoppel letter orders easy, and streamlines the overall process saving you time and money! PDR EZ Order portal makes placing, tracking, and updating your orders easy and efficient.

What is a Property Information Report (aka O&E Report)?

Property Information Reports, also known as O&E Reports or Current Owner Search, are a form of a property research report that identifies the last recorded owner of a property, a legal description of the property, and open recorded liens that affect the title including mortgages, judgments, lis pendens, etc.

A Property Information Report is a simplified non-insurance title report designed for informational purposes only. It does not serve as or replace title insurance. This report is not intended to be used in conjunction with the issuance of a title insurance policy. Learn more at: Property Information Report.

What is the PDR product Muni Search Lite?

Muni Search Lite is a product created because of changes as regards Municipal Lien searches in the 2017 FR/BAR real estate contract that debuted on April 4, 2017. This new product will retain the same PDR rigorous standards as our regular Municipal Lien Search, but will NOT INCLUDE a Permit Search nor real estate taxes.



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