Can a lien be placed on my property without notice?

Can a lien be placed on your property without notice? Before we answer this question, we need to know that a lien is defined as a legal right or interest that a creditor has in another’s property usually lasting only until the debt is paid.

There are different types of liens. A mortgage, a mechanic’s or a material supplier’s lien, or a legal judgment are some examples of liens. When a lien is placed on your property, a document has been filed at the County Recorder’s Office detailing the creditor’s claim and stating that the property secures the monetary amount of the claim.

The usual type of lien is a mechanic’s or a material supplier’s lien. A mechanic’s lien can occur if a contractor works on your property and you don’t pay him or her for the work. Similarly, a material supplier of, for example, roofing shingles or flagstone for a sidewalk can place a lien on the owner’s property if those materials are not paid for by the owner.

In most jurisdictions, a lien is merely a claim by the creditor, and a lawsuit has to be filed for a judge to verify the claim is valid. Different types of claims of lien must be filed at the recorder’s office within a certain amount of time of an event, such as the completion of work, or the ending of providing healthcare services. Further, depending on the type of claim of lien, a lawsuit must be filed to validate the claim within a particular time period after the claim is filed at the recorder’s office. 

After a lawsuit is filed to validate a claim of lien, the owner who is sued must receive notice of the lawsuit, and thus the claim of lien. Conversely, with some types of liens, immediate notice must be given to the owner of the property that a claim of lien is being filed, while in other cases notice of the claim of lien is considered to have been legally given immediately upon filing the claim in the public record at the recorder’s office.

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