How to Address a Lien on Property in Georgia


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Property Lien in Georgia

Do you want to know more about a lien on a property in Georgia? This article will provide you with all you need as far as property lien is concerned.

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Author: Stan Faulkner, Founder, Perigon Legal Services, LLC

Mr. Faulkner is an experienced counselor and litigator with 15 years of experience, having held bar licenses in four states (Mo, Il, Ct and Ga). Stan Faulkner uses this experience and focuses his skills in the pursuit of assisting individuals in probate (trust and estate) matters, guardianships and conservatorships, estate planning, business disputes and contract disputes. Published on June 27, 2022.

Dealing with the legal aspects of the transfer of ownership of real property is difficult enough without the added challenge of a judgment lien. You need a clear title to sell or refinance your home or commercial property. If a lien is recorded against your property, it will be registered as an official “cloud on the title.” This means that you cannot sell or refinance until the lien is removed.

A lien is a legal claim that one party has on the property of another for payment of a debt. Loans, failed payments for services, judicial judgments, or statutory payments, such as taxes, create lien rights. 

A lien can be filed on any type of property in Georgia, including real estate like residential homes and commercial properties, cars, and personal property.

When filing a lien on real estate in Georgia, specific steps and forms must be completed, and they can be confusing. The importance of understanding liens and lien priority cannot be overstated, especially if you own real estate. Experienced real estate counsel can answer any questions you have about liens. Ensure you seek further assistance from a reputable attorney familiar with Georgia lien law.

Categories of Georgia Property Liens

A lien can either be general or specific. A general lien is a claim that a lien claimant has against some or all of a debtor’s property. Any property may be sold to satisfy the debt. Conversely, a specific lien is attached to a specific asset that was offered as collateral in exchange for a loan.

In addition to liens being general and specific, they are either voluntary (consensual) or involuntary (non-consensual). 

Voluntary Liens

Voluntary liens are created by mutual agreement. Typical examples are mortgages on homes or liens placed on financed cars. Voluntary liens can be placed on homes, cars, boats, appliances, and valuable art. 


Involuntary Liens

Involuntary liens are placed against the owner’s will by an outside authority. Regulatory authorities like state and federal governments or courts typically place an involuntary lien on a property rather than lenders. Tax liens and judgment liens are the most common example of involuntary general liens. Assets that can be involuntarily encumbered include houses, bank accounts, vehicles, appliances, valuable art, or any other personal property the borrower may own. 

Types of Liens

There are three types of liens available for legal claims in Georgia, these are:

  • Judgment liens – In a civil suit, a court judgment gives the creditor the right to a certain amount of money from the proceeds of the sale of the debtor’s property, ensuring that they receive their money.

  • Mechanics’ liens – A mechanic’s lien is a legal document reserved for someone who is entitled to seek compensation if the person who commissioned the works, usually property owners and contractors, fails to pay them.

  • Tax liens – If you fail to pay taxes on time, the IRS may impose a tax lien as security for your obligation.

You can find out if there are any liens by searching online for the public records for your county or city or getting assistance from your local county recorder’s office.


How Long Do You Have to File a Lien in Georgia?

Georgia lien statute requires that lien claimants enforce their liens against a property owner within 365 days of filing. They have 30 days to file a notice of commencement of such lien action with the clerk of the superior court in the county where you filed the subject lien.

A mechanics lien must be filed within 90 days after the last date of furnishing labor or materials to the project.

Liens in Georgia cannot be extended. Should the claim not be submitted by the deadline, the lien will expire, and the claim will no longer be valid. If you need additional help, contact a real estate lawyer for more legal resources.


How Long Does a Property Lien Last in Georgia?

Depending on the type of lien and how it was created, property liens vary in duration. The Georgia judgment lien remains on the debtor’s property for seven years, even if the property changes hands.

How to Create a Lien on Someone’s Property in Georgia

In Georgia, there are two ways to put a lien on someone’s property. The first is by filing for a Notice of Lien. This process is usually used when there is a payment dispute or the work was not completed satisfactorily.

The second way to put a lien on someone’s property in Georgia is by filing for an Abstract of Judgment. This process is typically used when there is no dispute over payment, and the work has been completed satisfactorily.

After lien claimants file such a lien on the property of another, according to Georgia lien law, the notice of commencement may be sent to the property’s legal owners via registered or certified mail. Upon receipt, the lien attaches to the property until the debt is satisfied or the lien expires.

Hire an estate planning lawyer to provide you with the necessary information and advice on how to proceed.

How to Get Rid of a Lien on My Property in Georgia

Removing a claim of lien can be a long and complicated process. The following options are available to you, however:

  1. Negotiations with the creditor: A settlement can be reached through arbitration, mediation, or informal discussions.
  2. Pay your debt: You would need to file a Release of Lien form as evidence of the paid debt. 
  3. Court order: Removing the lien through a court order is possible if the lien was placed illegally through fraud, coercion, bad faith, etc. Ensure that you have evidence proving the illegality. 
  4. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Only certain types of liens, such as judicial liens, are eligible for Chapter 7, and they may only be enforced for a limited period of time.
  5. Expiry: Allow it to run out. If the statute of limitations has expired, the lien can be removed and viewed as unenforceable.

Consult with a trustworthy property attorney to review any legal documents that need to be filed or handled before you remove the lien.


Estate Lawyer for Property Liens in Georgia

It is important that you retain adequate legal representation if your property is subject to a lien or if you want to impose a lien on a debtor. A reputable law firm will provide you with expert legal advice by establishing a strong attorney-client relationship. 

Reputable attorneys from the Perigon Legal Services can be instrumental in lien action cases. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

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