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What Are Lien and Civil Judgment Records?

Records of liens and civil judgments are kept on file with the court system that processed them. A lien is an action a creditor takes when an individual fails to make the required payment. A legal proceeding restricts the sale of the home until the lien’s debt is repaid. A civil judgment occurs when an individual sues another individual. While no criminal trial has to happen in some cases civil and criminal trials can both occur. In both of these situations, records of the request as well as the outcome are kept on file. Most of these records are open to the general public for access.

In a lien record, there is a notation of a creditor who took an individual to court (with that individual’s presence or not) in order to try to force repayment of the property. The lien may be credit card debt, legal debt, debt from nonpayment of taxes or numerous other forms. The court must agree that the debt is owed and at that time, puts a lien on the home. This does not immediately force the foreclosure of the property but it does limit the individual’s ability to sell the property without repaying the debt. These records often occur at the county level and that is where you will find lien records most commonly kept.

Civil judgment can have the same implications. In situations where one person files a court complaint against another person and wins it, the court may award the individual money. When this happens, the court may place a lien on the property forcing the individual to repay the debt prior to attempting to sell the property. More so, no real estate lien is necessary. A civil judgment is a court awarded claim, which means there are minimal ways that the individual can get out of paying the debt.

These types of records are most often kept on file at the state or county level. This depends on where the case was heard. The records will indicate all parties involved including the person bringing the suit and the person that is being sued. It will include names and addresses of those involved. It will document what the claim is and what the monetary required repayment is. This will also put in place any terms for repayment, such as a set schedule of repayment. The goal with liens and civil judgments is to encourage the debtor to pay his debt.

Records like this will remain on file for up to 10 years or longer, depending on the state’s requirements. Even after the reporting statute expires, though, it is still possible for these liens to remain in place. In most states, it takes additional legal action to have these liens removed even after the debt is repaid. Individuals who wish to learn about any liens on real estate can consider a title or property records search to learn additional information based on the specific address of the real estate. This can help to clarify many concerns.


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