When a party loses a civil lawsuit he or she may be liable for monetary damages. But what happens when the losing party cannot afford to pay the judgment award outright? In most cases the court will allow the other party to obtain a judgment lien against property. Therefore, the winning party will retain the right to receive money if the property is ever sold, refinanced or mortgaged. Continue reading to find out how judgment liens on property work in the state of Utah.
Property Means Real Property
Some states allow judgment liens to be placed upon a wide variety of real and personal property. The law in Utah is more restrictive. In Utah, judgment liens may only be placed on real property. Real estate such as condominiums, lots, homes and certain types of property interests may be affected.
How Judgment Liens Are Obtained
After a party has a valid judgment from the court he or she must do some footwork to create the lien on property. Some people choose to use a real estate lawyer, such as Gavin Jensen, to make sure all the requirements are met.
The first step in obtaining a lien is to get the abstract of judgment from the court clerk. The abstract must be issued by the court that heard the original case. Next, the abstract must be filed in the Registry of Judgments in the clerk's office of the district court where the property is located. In Utah, the district court is the state court of general jurisdiction. Filing with the district court is required per Title 78B, Chapter 5, Part 2, Section 201 of the Utah Code.
Under subsection 3(a) of Title 78B, Chapter 5, Part 2, Section 201, the abstract must also be filed in with the county recorder in the area the property is located. If the debtor has several properties across different counties it will be necessary to file in each of them.
In addition to the filing the abstract, the future lien holder will also need to file a judgment information sheet. This document lists the names and addresses of the parties involved. As with the abstract, it needs to be filed with both the court and the county recorder.
Once these steps are done the judgment lien is considered to be "recorded." This means that it is now enforceable against the debtor.
How Long Are Judgment Liens Valid?
A judgment lien can be attached to a property for a total of eight years. This term is referred to as the "statute of limitations" for the enforcement of a judgment lien on property. A lien can be extended beyond this time period if a motion to renew judgment is successfully obtained from the court.
Getting Help With a Judgment Lien
Wrongfully filing a judgment lien on real property is illegal under Utah law. A person who wrongfully files can be subject to civil penalties for thousands of dollars. Therefore, it is important to make sure a judgment lien on property is valid and properly filed.
If you need help filing or removing a lien contact the real estate attorneys at Spencer and Jensen, LLC. Recording a judgment lien can be both confusing and time-consuming. Get legal help with a judgment lien on property by calling 801-566-1884.