Can A Lien Be Placed On My Property Without Notice?

Can A Lien Be Placed On Your House Without Notice

Are you worried about a lien being placed on your property without your knowledge? Or, worse yet, have you attempted to sell a property only to find out that a lien had been placed on it months ago and no one bothered to notify you? While it’s unlikely that just anyone can put a lien on your home or land, it’s not unheard of for a court decision or a settlement to result in a lien being placed against a property. To avoid that situation, let’s take a look at what kinds of events can lead to a lien and how you can fight them.

What Is a Lien?

First, you should have a clear idea of what a lien is. In simple terms, a property lien is something a creditor can attach to a property title that says you owe them money. Until you pay that debt, your title won’t be considered clear, which means you can’t refinance or sell your property. There are two types of liens:

  • Voluntary liens are contracts between a creditor and a debtor, such as a mortgage
  • Involuntary liens are imposed by law when, for example, a debtor falls behind in tax payments

Involuntary liens can happen without notice depending on the situation. Most commonly, a creditor will place a lien against your property after it sues you and wins the case. This is known as a judgment lien.

Judgment Liens

The creditor can use a judgment lien on your property to ensure they receive the money they won in a suit against you. After a creditor wins a lawsuit against a debtor, the court can grant it a certificate of judgment that can be given to a land records office in the county where the property is located. While no formal notice may be given to you, you should always consider it a possible outcome following a court case with a creditor.

What Can Happen?

A property lien will remain in effect until you pay off your debt to the creditor or if the judgment expires. In some cases, a creditor may decide to request a writ of execution and foreclose on your property. However, except for tax liens, creditors usually forego foreclosure in favor of waiting to collect until your property is sold.

Because mortgage payments are typically placed on properties before liens, those payments have to be made before the liens are paid. So, if a creditor forecloses, they have to continue making payments on the property or lose it altogether.  Instead, a creditor may choose to collect what’s owed to them when you sell the property. Buyers won’t usually buy a property without a clear title, so you would need to pay off your lien before being able to sell.

Check for Property Liens

Search For Lien Against Property

If you’re worried about a lien being placed against your property without your knowledge, you can check to make sure that hasn’t happened since most property liens are public records. Your city or county recordings office should have the information you need.

How to Help Prevent and Fight Against Liens

If there’s any possibility that a creditor could try to place a lien against your property, be ready to fight. Document every aspect of your conflict with them: letters, phone calls, emails, etc. Although it’s not always possible to easily clear up debt, try your best to straighten it out.

Should you receive notice that a creditor is seeking judgment against you, don’t brush it off. Respond in writing and show up to any court dates with an attorney and documentation of your financial situation. If the ruling is not in your favor, keep your ear to the ground in case the creditor decides to create a lien.

About Max Beier

Maximilian F. Beier is a partner at Beier, Beier & Beier. He joined the law firm in 2001 as an associate after a two-year clerkship with Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge, John P. Hester. He was made a partner in 2007. Max is experienced in litigating personal injury claims and product liability issues in the state and federal courts of Pennsylvania. Additional litigation experience includes business disputes, contract actions, real-estate and domestic matters. Max and wife Michele reside in the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh, and are the proud parents of Maximilian Finley “Finn," and Braxton Beier.
  • javaris taylor

    My x girl friend put a lein on my home with out judgement

    • TC

      How did she accomplish that? Can you explain please It would really help in a situation Im in. Someone scammed me into selling my home supposedly a cash buyer and the deal was that he would pay a portion of the funds after closing. He walked away with not paying the last portion. How can I do what your girlfriend did? Please inbox me if needed

  • Elizabeth

    If there is a married couple that both have ownership, can one get a lien placed on them through court? If so can it be requested as a part of the relief?

  • Bev

    Can a lender add property to the description on the mortgage after the lendee signs the mortgage. We mortgaged a single family home with a well known bank. After signing the mortgage paperwork the property description was changed to include 6 individually deeded platted lots with separate tax ID’s in addition to the description of the single family home with the address on all of the mortgage papers. 3 of the lots had been sold by us to other individuals prior to signing this mortgage paperwork. Obviously we never would have approved adding them or any of the other lots to the description. The lender recorded the mortgage with the additional lots added to the description. We didn’t find out until someone we sold one of the lots to tried to re-sell it. The title company handling the sale caught it. This seems fraudulent to me.

  • Michael Sherrow

    I have a business attempting to place a lien on my house from the previous owner. 6 months after we bought and closed on the house. Is this even legal? The last owners authorized the work and never finished paying him. Am i stuck having to pay it now?

    • Tatsi

      I’m in a similar situation right now. Could you please share how you had this resolved?

  • Philip cashion

    What if i just pulled my trailor out of forclosher and it got burnt doen with no insurance.can the lendor take a lien on my property and take my land from me even if i agree to keep makeing the payments

  • Frank Bence

    We leased a solar system a few years back and were in the process of refinancing when we found out the leasing company placed a lien on our home. this was done without any notification. When we asked the leasing company what gave them the right the indicated that UCC sections 2A-508 thru 522. I read through those and still can’t see the justification.

  • Amy life

    Found out last week that a fake “bad debt” that had been purchased by two credit card companies over the last 10 years has resulted in a judgement against my ex, whose name is also in the the title of my house. We purchased the house before we married, and never changed the title to “tenants in kind”. The debt was a bait and switch from a payment his former credit card company claimed arrived a day late after we refinanced & the mortgage carrier sent the agreed upon amount. These charges are not for anything purchased, but for interest accrued during the negotiating process and then after. And they never informed us. I have significant paper trails, and was NEVER notified of a court date. And this happened over 10 years ago. Now my family, who is spearheading the sale of the house, say that the lien must be paid in order to sell the house. I am, naturally livid, and I don’t get angry often. This is just foul play, and I do have records to prove it. Any advice? My siblings are attorneys but not in real estate la2. I worked as a credit & collection manager for 14 years, and somehow they don’t think I have a clue. Help?

  • Letty Parra

    My mother in law is trying to do a modification on her house but the city she lives in put a lien on her home without her knowledge. They did not inform her of the lien in writing or verbal or any kind of way she just found out cause no bank is willing to help her with modification because of the kien. The city put this lien on her property due to home improvement permits expired or and still not unsolved like replacing 2 windows, upgrading of 2 closed and a garage conversion . The garage conversion case was cleared and closed but not documented by there force encodmen. Can they actually put a lien on her property because if that and without any notice to my inlaws?

  • Tracy G

    After a recent house fire we hired a contractor to help put the pieces back together. During the process the contractor had additional items the needed to be added in the insurance claim called a supplemental. We requested a copy and the contractor never responded. We made the final payment as we are now back in our house. A month after the final payment the contractor said he is placing a line on the house for the amount of what the insurance owns him from the supplemental. He never requested payment or stated we were in default.

    My question is what laws are out there to protect homeowners when contractors get lein happy?

  • Tsb

    I lived with a friend, moved out, and he states I still owe him money. There is no proof, nor do I owe him. I left my car on his property after being told this was okay. Now he’s stating he placed a lien on my car. Is this even legal/possible?

    • Jessee McMinnis

      Did you ever get an answer

  • lenny rich

    My wife just informed me that the courts put a lien on us cor the court costs and fees that my son has recieved. What do i need to do

  • Angie Messerschmidt

    A friend of mine got a new ac for his condo he has lived in for 15 years. He just found out the AC company put a lien on his property without his knowledge for the cost of the AC though he is making regular scheduled payments. Is this legal?

  • del fleming

    Since buying a property in GA in 2013 I’ve been hounded be medical bills for the previous owner who died and the owner before him also deceased.
    I’ve called these companies some stopped sending others said after me telling them the neighbors told me he died and he did not own this property anymore that they could only change the system to stop sending me the bills if i was the patient?
    There were no liens on the house at the time of me buying it.
    Does anybody know if a lien can be placed on my property from these companies without my knowledge for a previous owners debt?

  • jose

    I have an issue with my condo association; i have been paying my condo fees on a automatic withdrawal set up more over 15 years. Apparently the condo change management and stop withdrawals from my account. they said they sent me a letter but i did not get it and i asked if they send it certify or tracking mail and they did not. They sent my account to collection even though only one quarter payment was delayed. i have paid it in full but now they want me to pay the collection agency fees of 250$. do i have a case ? Isn’t the condo association under the obligation of notifying me that they stop automatic withdrawal. please what is your advice

  • Cindy

    A mortgage lien was placed on our property 9 years ago by my husband’s mother. After filing it in the courts she disappeared, but now has reappeared claiming 9% interest due on the original $30,000 which has now become $65,000. We have over the last 8 years tried everything in our power to locate her with the help of many others with no luck. She has now obtained a lawyer to collect this with firm instructions not to share her whereabouts which simply confirms our inability to find her these past 8 years to satisfy this lien. Can she still be awarded this 9% interest over all these years when there has been no way to find her?

  • Rebecca Frohock-Roberts

    I’m almost at the ten year mark for a judgment that I JUST discovered. I was never served, as I lived in another state at the time. If I request copies from a judgement case file, will the plaintiff be notified and subsequently be “reminded” to renew?

  • thor

    I’m under contract to sell my house which I purchased in 2014. Chase Bank won a judgement against me in 2010 at which time I did not own any property. Our title company just informed me that there is a lien on my property which has to be satisfied upon closing in 30 days. I also filed bankruptcy in 2011. Is this lien legal?

    • Hank1946

      Was the Chase Bank amount included in the bankruptcy and not a legal lien on the property? If part of the Bankruptcy and resolved in the proceedings as I understand the law you would have a case against them! first contact them and tell them when and where the court dismissed the amount owed. Also get the documents to your lender and they will not be able to collect. Bankruptcy is only good for the bills in the action and if in the action Chase would be in effect breaking the law to pursue it. But first give them notice that you do not owe it just in case it was a mistake on their part. Make sure the company who issues the title and they will not consider it as a legal
      I don’t know what state you are in so you may have other legal responsibilities as to informing them. I am not a lawyer just some things I have read.

  • Kana Wolf Love

    Im not in any debt. I recently kicked my cheating ex out and hes called to tell me that hes going to put a lien on my house. For trees he cut down while living here when we were together. And says after he files ill be evicted in u 72 hours. I cant be evicted from my own home can I?

  • Tracy Ayers

    If I have a car and the title is in my name can someone put a lien against it cause someone owes them money and their name is not on my title or my insurance?

  • Holbrook

    How do modifications work i did a mod last year and now we are in contract for a new build and the realtor we are using to sell our current home said their are 3 leins on my house, the mortgage company a lawyer and collection (i think for capital one)i won the collections from capital one got a letter from the judge so i had no clue their were any judgemdnts with interest how can i get them fixed? Help please diana(dot)holbrook(dot)tx@(

  • John irizarry

    Hello-I just had a contractor build a brick mailbox that my cousin accidentally hit with my car a few weeks ago. The mailbox was completely destroyed. The contractor’s work was awful. The brick was set poorly and the mailbox itself not centered. I approached the contractor, show him the work, and he said “I did not notice all those mistakes”. He admitted the work was substandard. He asked me what I wanted to do and I told him he need to make it right. He said “Well that will cost me more in material and labor”. He said he would give me a discount and only charge me for the materials. Well, I don’t want a mailbox that looks this way so I told him that was not acceptable. 2 days later he said he was going to file lien against my house if I do not pay him. What recourse do I have against his substandard work? Do I need to pay him even after he agreed the mailbox looked terrible? As it stands, the property value may go down as a result of this eye sore in front of my house! Thoughts?

  • Monica Saenz

    My fiancee and I have split up after a 3year relationship. He lived with me and never carried any financial burden. He put a partial fence up with 2gates and did not finish. I purchased all the materials and he did the labor with my help. We have broken up and he has been gobe for 2months now. He is telling me he is putting a lien on my property and coming to take the fence down. Can he do this if he lived with me for free?

  • jp

    can a home owners association place a lien on property if you did not opt into their association?

  • Suzie

    I have a question I am renting a house here in Idaho and I had somebody mow my lawn and I lost my job and couldn’t pay now he’s saying that he’s going to put a lien on the property how can he do that if it’s not my house

  • Erica Ibarra-Guzman

    Hello, I recently purchased an energy saver roof. I had no idea that by doing this that they placed a tax lien on my property. Not once did they ever discuss this, yes i signed for the roof to be fone. Never received my contract or receipt of documents being signed. I had an arrangement to make payments of 200 dollars a month for 30 years to pay it off. If i would have known , i would have never agreed to this! Is there any legal action i can take?? Erica

  • my personal property was removed from a house hat I was to buy back from Fannia Mae. 57 Saybrook Ave. 02882 Narr. RI. I was not able to get the funds to buy back house by a specific time. The law firm Bendett & McHugh, ordered a moving company & a Constable ,being that there was an eviction active ,that was put on hold pending on me getting the funds for repurchase. Now my property is at Jones Moving & Storage in Providence RI & I am being asked to pay $4,276.00 to get my personal property back. Can You help me.

  • George Colson

    How would someone prove they have a right to created a lien? What would they need? I have an issue with someone claiming they’re going to but they have no documents saying I owe them anything as I don’t and the guy has never done work for me. How would he scam that?

  • Amy

    My in-laws are on our mortgage & deed, due to we had no credit when we purchased our home. Can they get a loan with a lien against our home with out us knowing it?

  • Debbie Bowman

    what if 2 people are on a mortgage, but the other is not on deed, can someone

    put a lien on the house if that person is not on deed

  • Mike

    Where trying to sell a property. There was a mortgage that was discharged through chapter7 BK. When we went to the title company they found a lien. The lien is not in the county records. We tried to contact the Mortgagee with no response What the heck is going on?

  • Toni Gray

    i put my doughter added to my deed with previsions she didnt own value just rites to handle it for me while i was sick, after it returned to me tottaly, now i am selling it and her bank rupsy that juge had forgiven the housse as i paid for it and kept my value and rites to be returned but now selling it and they want to hold it out of my sell??

  • Toni Gray

    i put my doughter name put on the property with mine when i was sick, with the noterized copy when i get well she would take off her name as was done she had no monatary intrest in it, but now its only my name but found out ford put a lein on it when she filed chapter7 while living in it for me but it always stayed my homestead. and is now can they take the money out?? the title is only in my name

  • Kat

    How can a lien be paid off if an ex won’t co-operate?

  • Anonymous

    WTH don’t you answer these people?

  • Stephanie Rogers

    A person I have known for 15 years told me I could buy her mother’ house that is in an estate for what was owed. Long sotry short a year later and $12,000 I find that isn’t true. Can I get my money back?