A lien can be placed on a property for a variety of reasons.

If a person is applying for a mortgage or refinancing, he may allow for a lien to be placed on his property to receive the financing.

Also, a lien can be placed on property due to unpaid federal and state taxes, unpaid child support, divorce and many other cases in which the debtor does not pay a debt. As with any legal matter, it might be best to consult an attorney, but it's possible to file a lien yourself.

Things You Will Need
  • Court appointment

  • Attorney

  • Judgment and lien paperwork

Figure out how complicated this legal process may be for you. If it's going to involve a ton of legal paperwork and research, you may need to consult or hire an attorney who specialises in these matters. If you aren't that educated in the process of judgments and liens, it might be best to talk to a professional first. You'll want to make sure you're legally covered to the best of your abilities.

Assess what type of lien you are placing on the property in questions. There are different type of liens, so make sure you are filing the correct one. There are mechanics or workmen's liens, contractor liens and others. Are you putting a lien on the property for some type of unpaid debt other than monies owed on the property itself? All of these questions need to be answered before filing the paperwork. You legally cannot file a lien against someone's property because they owe you money. The courts will have to assess the situation first.

Purchase lien forms at your local office supply store, library or attorney's office. A direct lien that can be filed through the court and attached to the property in question is generally reserved for contractors or mortgage lenders. You will have to list the details of the lien on the form. These will be items such as identification of the property in question, purpose of the lien and the amount in question. Most states will give the contractor a certain amount of time to file as well as foreclose on the lien. It's best to check with your state agency before attaching a lien to a piece of property.

Suing the debtor in court to try to recover the monies owed is generally the first legal step in the process of filing a lien. If the creditor wins the case, a judgment is then filed against the debtor for the monies that are owed. The debtor is usually given a chance by the court to pay the monies owed before a lien is filed against her property. If this does not happen, or the debtor does not show up in court, a lien will then be placed on the property for such monies by the court. The property then cannot be sold without the lien being paid first.

Collecting money that's owed through a lien attached to a judgment can be a slow process. It also doesn't take much effort and the expense is relatively low. If the property in question sells or is refinanced, you still may have to wait to get your money. Everyone who placed a lien before you will get paid first. It's basically waiting for your turn to get paid. You will definitely need patience. It also might be wise to not harass the person owing you money by aggressive collection techniques. The last thing you want to happen is the debtor to feel overwhelmed by all the money that's owed and file for bankruptcy. Collecting money on a lien can be a slow, drawn out process that involves a hurry up and wait attitude.


If the property in question is transferred to a relative or new owner without the lien being paid off, the lien will transfer to the new owner. The new owner gets the title of the property, unpaid lien and all. You may still have to wait to receive your money.