Property is classified as real or personal. A personal lien placed against a property allows a plaintiff to collect money against the defendant/owner of the property. However, with regard to real property, if a personal lien is placed against the property, the lien cannot be collected until the owner sells or refinances the property.
Liens for Personal Debts
In most personal lien cases, a contractor or sub-contractor that you hire to do work at your property can place a personal debt lien against property for non-payment of materials or for their services performed at your property. These liens are referred as mechanics liens, or construction liens.
Sometimes personal liens can be filed for borrowed money that you have lent a family, friend, or a business for whatever reason. Some common examples for borrowed debt liens is that a friend or family member may lend some money to someone to help out during a time of financial hardship, mortgage payment assistance, etc. Partnered investment deals may be another reason for a personal lien to be established.
Filing a Personal Lien
A mechanics lien is generally filed by the contractor/sub-contractor prior to performing the work, and it is released after the job is completed and the services or materials are paid for. Mechanic’s lien laws vary from state to state.
In the event that a lien isn’t filed before the work is performed and you are attempting to a file a lien for a nonpayment of services and/or materials, you would have to go to your county clerk of the property’s location which the lien is being placed under to figure out the exact requirements, procedure, and paperwork required. The assistance of an attorney can often be very helpful. If the amount owed is substantial, it would definitely be a wise idea.
Establishing or Negotiating a Lien Amount
It is best to negotiate with the debtor first before they place a personal debt lien against your property. But sometimes the property owner is not aware that a personal lien has been filed, and must negotiate at a later date with the creditor. You may need to hire an attorney to negotiate a lien settlement amount.
Collecting the Debt and Releasing the Filed Lien
A contract is usually established that each party would have to sign and agree to outlining the agreements of the lien and borrowed money. If the contract was breached, you would have to prove this to the courts to order a judgment for debt collection.
Once you and the creditor (the person lending the money) agree to a settlement, you will need to get the lien released and recorded in the county where the property is located. The creditor is responsible for recording the appropriate satisfaction of lien release forms in the county where the property is located.
Since property laws and liens against property are complicated, it is a good idea to check your state laws and consult with a real estate lawyer with regard to a lien against property. Real estate lawyers represent debtors or credits, perform debt collection services, negotiate lien amounts and releases of liens as well as handle other property matters. The real estate lawyer can advise you of your legal remedies regarding a lien against property.