What are Judgment Liens on Property in California?

When a judge or jury gives a verdict in a civil trial – or when a court approves a settlement in any civil case, the court enters a formal judgment to that effect. Generally, in a judgment, one party is required to pay money to another party. However, the individual who is supposed to pay (debtor) sometimes does not pay the money due.   A lien is a form of security interest granted over an item of property to secure the payment of a debt or obligation.  It is with the help of a court ordered judgment lien on property – which can be real estate property or personal property in California – that a person who is supposed to receive the money (creditor) receives payment.  With this type of judgment lien, a certain amount of the judgment is settled by selling the property of the debtor the lien is attached to with the proceeds paid to the creditor.

But how do these judgment liens on property work? There is a lot of confusion related to judgment liens among creditors as well as debtors regarding the type of property that can be attached in judgment liens, how to get a judgment lien, to the duration of judgment lien. This post will help you understand the crucial elements that you need to know about judgment liens in California.

Type of property that can be attached to a judgment lien in California

The judgment lien in California can attach to real estate property of the debtor. This includes house, land, condo, and other similar types of properties. The lien can also be attached to personal property of the debtor, like jewelry, antiques, art, and other types of valuable items. Moreover, there are other states where the lien is only attached to the personal property of the debtor.

Getting a judgment lien in the State of California

For getting a California judgment lien on the property of the debtor, a creditor is required to mail or take the Abstract of Judgment to the office of the county recorder in any of the counties in California where the debtor is known to currently own a property or has plans to own one in future.

An Abstract of Judgment is a written summary of a judgment which states how much money the losing party owes to the person who won the lawsuit (judgment creditor), the rate of interest to be paid on the judgment amount, court costs, and any specific orders that the losing party (judgment debtor) must obey.

If the lien is to be attached to a personal property, a creditor is required to file the Abstract of Judgment Notice with State Secretary of California. The creditor can also serve an examination notice to the debtor.

Judgment lien duration

A California judgment lien on property can stay attached to real estate or personal property up to 10 years even when the property is no longer owned by the debtor. Also, a creditor should renew the lien before it expires. Once the lien expires, it will no longer be enforceable and the creditor will not be able to get the money. After renewing the lien, it cannot be renewed again for 5 years. But make sure that you do renew the lien every 10 years in California before the judgment lien on property expires.

However, a creditor should remember that there are several factors that are taken into consideration when it comes to the ability to collect under judgment lien. This includes a fixed amount which cannot be touched by the creditor if the attached real estate property is the primary residence of the debtor, other liens which can be replaced, and bankruptcy proceedings or foreclosure.

If a creditor is finding it difficult to get the judgment lien on property from the debtor or if the matter is too complex to understand, it is highly recommended that one should get in touch with a professional debt and bankruptcy attorney in California. The attorney will make it easier for the creditor to understand the whole process and will also recommend the steps that can be taken to get the judgment lien successfully from the debtor.

How to know more about California judgment liens on property

No matter if you need to pay judgment lien or receive it or just want to know more about judgment lien, you can know more about judgment lien related laws including judgment liens on real estate in California by looking at relevant statute(s) which can be found at Cal. Civ. Proc. Code sections 697.310, 697.340.

While getting a judgment lien on property in California seems like a simple process, a lot of times it can be very difficult for a creditor to get the money from the debtor. As a result, if any creditor fails to understand the entire process, rather than losing all the money, it is better to seek professional help. While the attorney will take a percentage of the lien amount, you’ll at least have the peace of mind knowing that the matters are handled in a legal and professional manner.

At Fast Eviction Service, help on any of the issues discussed in this article is simply a click or phone call away. Email intake@fastevict.com or call our office at (800) 686-8686 to discuss your questions for a free evaluation of your case.

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