A lien is an assertion of a legal interest. For example, if you hire a contractor to build your home, and you don't pay the contractor, then the contractor will file a lien on your home until you pay. The lien gives the contractor a legal interest in your home. If you believe you have a legal interest in somebody's home or real property, you can file a lien by taking the steps outlined in this article.
General Rules for Filing a Lien
Determine whether you have a valid interest in the property that you want to file a lien against. If you don't have a valid legal interest, you can be liable to the property owner for damages. A valid legal interest might arise if, among other reasons, you have done work on a home or if you have a judgment against the property owner.
Determine the county in which the property is located. If you are going to file a lien against Big House, you need to figure out what county in which Big House is located.
Draft a lien document. You can find a good form to use online from legal form retailers such as legalzoom.com or uslegalforms.com, or you can get a lien form from a local attorney.
Record the lien. To record a lien means to file it in the county recorder's office. For example, if you are filing a lien on Big House, which is located in County A, you will go to County A's courthouse and file the lien with the County A recorder. You will typically have to pay a small filing fee (probably around $10-$20).
Provide notice of the lien. Most states require you to provide notice of the filing of the lien, which means you will have to send the property owner a copy of the filed lien.
- Lien are governed by state law, so the laws vary from state to state. You should always check the laws of your state before filing the lien. For example, a link to Utah's lien laws is provided below. You will want to review the laws of your particular state before you do anything.
- Before you file a lien, make sure you have a valid reason for doing so. Many states allow a property owner to collect monetary damages against you if you file an invalid lien.