A good place to start is our collection of previous blog posts on various types of liens. The answer is “Maybe.” Did you perform labor, provide services, or sell materials used on a construction job? If the answer is “Yes,” and you meet some other requirements, then you may be able to record a claim of lien.
Circumstances for Lien
In most other circumstances, however, you don’t have a pre-judgment right to record a lien against real property owned by someone who owes you money. But, even if you cannot record a lien against someone right now, you may have other options. Keep in mind that a lien is merely a right to look to property as security for a debt. You may still obtain relief against someone who owes you money if you have a valid basis on which to sue, such as a promissory note, an unpaid account, or a purchase/sale contract, and the statute of limitations has not expired. In many circumstances, a lien may only be important if a debtor has no liquid resources to pay a judgment.
Even if the debtor has no assets when you obtain a judgment, you may still have some long-term options. A judgment for damages (i.e., a sum of money) can become a lien on non-homestead real property in a county if a certified copy of the judgment is recorded in the clerk’s office. The judgment lien can last for up to 20 years if it is properly renewed.
The facts and circumstances of each situation are different and can make a difference in what options you may have. Be sure to talk to an experienced lawyer in deciding how you want to proceed.