Can a lien be placed on jointly-owned property?

Yes, a lien may be placed on property that is jointly owned. However, the effects of that lien depend on the type of ownership that the property is under. Before discussing the terms of joint ownership, it’s important that you understand exactly what liens are and what they may mean for you and your investment.

If a creditor or contractor has placed a lien on your property, speak with an attorney experienced in Maryland real estate law. It is possible to remove a lien and avoid losing money. Call Howard County real estate attorney Fred Coover at (410) 553-5042 to schedule your  case consultation.


What is a lien?

A lien is a legal claim over property that guarantees a creditor the right to seize the property if the owner defaults on their debt. Creditors place a lien on a property to secure the debt that they are owed. There are two types of liens: consensual and non-consensual (involuntary).

Consensual liens

A consensual lien is just what it sounds like – a contractual obligation between the creditor and the debtor. Examples of a consensual lien are home mortgages or vehicle loans. These are just the side effects of borrowing money and don’t necessarily lead to negative consequences.

Non-consensual liens

Non-consensual (involuntary) liens are filed as a result of non-payment on the part of the debtor. Typically, a court will place an involuntary lien against your assets as payment for what the creditor is owed.

A judgment lien is a type of non-consensual lien where a court gives the creditor the right to take possession of the debtor’s property when they fail to make payments.

A confessed judgment lien is when a creditor’s attorney files an affidavit confessing, on behalf of the debtor, that a judgment is owed. The court can then enter judgment against the debtor, meaning that the creditor can collect on the judgment through the debtor’s salary, bank accounts, and other methods. 

Once the debtor receives the notice of confessed judgment, they can file a motion within 30 days to modify or cancel the judgment.


Liens on jointly-owned property

As mentioned, a lien can be placed on jointly-owned property depending upon the terms of ownership. If a married couple owns a house through a special quality of title called “tenants by the entireties” an individual creditor cannot place a lien on the property.

If the married couple or joint owners of a property do not have a tenancy by the entireties title, any lien can attach to the person’s interest in the property. Whether it’s judgment or confessed judgment, the lien will attach to the homeowner’s interest, making the lienor a co-owner of the property. A lienor is a party that holds a lien over a property. A lienor could be a general contractor who didn’t get paid, or it could be a creditor, such as a mortgage company.

If the joint homeowner’s title is not tenancy by the entireties, the lienor can attach and enforce their lien. Sometimes, the lienor will force the sale of the property, but more often the lienor will negotiate with the owners and get them to pay the lien.


Fighting the lien on your property

Liens can be difficult to remove once a creditor or contractor places one on your property. These can be complicated cases, but it is possible to remove a lien with the help of an experienced real estate attorney in Maryland. Columbia, MD real estate lawyer Fred Coover will help you understand the specific laws regarding your case and make sure action is taken in time to satisfy Maryland’s statute of limitations.

Mr. Coover will evaluate the details of your case and help determine the best course of legal action in removing the lien from your property. For all your real estate and property dispute questions, call Coover Law Firm, LLC at (410) 553-5042 today.