Dear Consumer Ed:
I just found out that there is a judgment lien against my house. How does this affect my house? How long will the lien be there? What can I do to get rid of the lien?
Consumer Ed says:
A lien may be placed on your home if a creditor files a lawsuit against you for an unpaid debt you owe, and the court grants a judgment to the creditor, which the creditor then records. With an active lien on your home, you generally will not be able to sell or refinance the property.
The judgment lien will be enforceable against your house for seven years after the judgment was rendered. The judgment lien can be renewed by the creditor for an additional seven-year period. After the seven-year period expires the judgment becomes dormant, and the lien cannot be enforced against your house unless the creditor files an action to renew or revive the judgment. You should receive notice of this action by personal service through the Sheriff.
There are three ways to remove a judgment lien:
- Pay off the lien. If you cannot afford to pay the lien in full, you may want to contact the creditor to see if you can set up a payment plan or negotiate a lower amount that the creditor will accept in satisfaction of the judgment. Once you have paid off the lien, be sure to request a “satisfaction of lien” from the creditor.
- Ask the court to vacate the judgment and remove the lien. Whether or not a court will agree to remove the lien will depend on the circumstances surrounding the judgment and the amount of time that has elapsed since the date of the judgment. You should contact an attorney if you are thinking about pursuing this option.
- Declare bankruptcy and have the lien avoided. This should be a last resort, since declaring bankruptcy will have serious repercussions on your credit rating and your ability to keep your existing credit accounts and request new ones. If you qualify for bankruptcy, you should consult a bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options.
Submit your own question to Consumer Ed. Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.