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A lien is a form of security interest granted over an item of property to secure the payment of a debt or performance of some other obligation.

What Is A Lien?

A lien is a legal claim against a piece of property that is recorded with the local county, giving the lienholder a legal interest in a property. Liens are generally granted by a property owner or by a court. Once granted or awarded, the lien is filed against a specific parcel of property and recorded with the local county recorder.


When someone has a lien placed against their property, it can prevent them from showing they have clear title if they try to sell their property—which would make the new owner responsible for resolving the lien. It may also prevent them from getting a mortgage or subdividing their property until the lien is satisfied.


Liens are claims against property that are either granted by the property owner—to a mortgage lender, for instance—or imposed by someone filing a claim against the property owner. Liens can be filed by a local government when a property owner fails to pay real estate taxes, or by individuals who win a judgment against a property owner that goes unpaid.

Types of Liens


Liens are all a form of secured interest in property, but there are many different types of liens. Some liens are voluntary, granted by the property owner. Other liens are involuntary and are granted by courts or taken by government agencies.


Six common types of liens are:

  • Mortgage Lien

  • Tax Lien

  • Mechanics Lien

  • IRS Lien

  • Judgment Lien

  • Child Support Lien

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