If you recently won a lawsuit and the court issued a judgment against your debtor, the judgment affirms your legal right to the money. Collecting the money, however, is a different matter. Filing a lien against the debtor's real property is one way to ensure you eventually receive the money due to you. The process is very easy in Texas as the lien attaches to every non-exempt property the debtor owns or may purchase in the county of filing.
Research the locations of the debtor's property in Texas. Visit the tax assessor's office in the county of the debt, surrounding counties and counties where the debtor previously lived or worked.
Obtain an abstract, transcript, certified copy or memorandum of the judgment from the clerk of the court that issued it. This is your legal proof of placing the lien.
Record the judgment in the office of the recorder of each county the debtor owns property; this will affix a lien against all non-exempt real property owned by the debtor. Remember you must record the judgment in each individual county; a lien recorded in Dallas county will not affect property owned by the debtor in Tarrant or Harris counties.
Tips & Warnings
- Record your judgment in counties where the debtor is a potential heir to real property to secure any inheritance possibilities. Also, file in counties where the debtor previously worked or owned property as a hedge against possible future investments.
- The debtor's primary residence is exempt from liens under the Texas Homestead Act. Recording a lien against a debtor's residence will make it more difficult for the property to be sold as it raises a question of ownership. You must clear the lien before a sale can progress; however, a lien holder is mandated by law to release any such lien upon the debtor's request or face civil suit.
- Liens expire; you must re-file the abstract with a writ of execution every 10 years to keep your lien current and enforceable.
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