A lien is a legal claim placed on property, in order to secure payment of a debt or satisfy an obligation. In Illinois, a judgment lien allows creditors to force the sale of your property for the purpose of paying off the debt. Liens can remain in effect for 7 years, and may be extended for up to twenty years. In instances where the creditor is unable to force the sale of your property, you are prohibited from refinancing or selling it, until the complete judgment is paid.
Consult an attorney who specializes in real estate or creditor-debtor laws. He can answer your questions and ensure that you follow all required procedures according to your state and jurisdiction laws, making sure that your lien is legally binding.
File a judgment with the Cook County Circuit Court, in order to obtain a judgment against the property. Bring all necessary documentation, including the exact address of the property for which the lien is being placed and proof of the amount owed to you.
Notify the debtor that a lien is being filed against his property. The notice will identify both the creditor and debtor and should give the debtor a certain amount of time to respond. In Illinois, the sheriff will post the notice weekly for a period of three weeks in the newspaper, as well as in the sheriff's office and courthouse in the county where the property is located.
File legal documents with the Cook County Recorder's Office. This office creates public records of land transactions and records and stores the information for public and private use. Upon filing the judgment with the Cook County Recorder's office, the lien is placed on the property.
Obtain certified copies of all legal documents. As of June 2011, there is a general filing fee of $15 and an additional fee of $20 to obtain certified copies. More fees may apply, based on any additional legal services and documentation you request. Court costs may also apply.