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California lien law: an overview   Tags: real property judgments creditors rights  

Filing liens against property in California. Who can do it and when can they do it. Resources to help explain the conditions under which a lien can be filed.
Last Updated: Aug 30, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Liens - who can file a lien against property in California and when can they do it.


Best sources at ACLL


Types of liens

Overview of types of liens allowed under California law.


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Liens - General information about liens in California

Liens in California

Do you feel you have a right to file a lien on the property of others to help you settle a debt or claim an interest in a piece of property?

California law restricts when people can file liens on property.  If a person wants to file a lien because they feel a debt is owed or they feel they have a right to some of the value of a piece of property, they must follow the standards set out under the law and use proper legal forms.

What is the definition of “lien?”

lien (leen or lee-ən) n. (16c) A legal right or interest that a creditor has in another's property, lasting usu. until a debt or duty that it secures is satisfied. • Typically, the creditor does not take possession of the property on which the lien has been obtained.

Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014)


A lien is a notice attached to your property telling the world that a creditor claims you owe it some money.  A lien is typically a public record.  It is generally filed with a county records office (for real property) or with a state agency, such as the secretary of state (for cars, boats, office equipment, and the like).  Liens on real estate are a common way for creditors to collect what they are owed.  Liens on personal property, such as motor vehicles, are less frequently used but can be an effective way for someone to collect.

Margaret Reiter,

If you aren't owed a debt but feel you have a legal claim to real property, you may consider another public record filing - lis pendens or notice of pendency of action

Read more about lis pendens.


Please note:

Please note: This Guide is a general overview to help with research into the area of California lien law.  This information should not be construed as legal advice.  Please obtain legal counsel from a person licensed to practice law in the State of California to decide what actions best fit your legal needs. 


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