There are numerous ways that businesses collect on debts owed to them. Some companies will try to garnish paychecks or a bank account, while others might require collateral before they provide services or financing.

An alternate approach is for a company or a person to place a lien against the property owned by someone with an outstanding debt. If there is a lien against your property or if a business wants to seek a lien against your property, what might that mean for you as the owner?

A lien is a way to compel you to pay

Some people stop paying on their debt because of financial hardship, while others choose not to pay specific debts for personal reasons, such as spite or a disagreement with the other party.

If, for example, you don’t believe that the contractor who remodeled your kitchen did a sufficient job, and instead, damaged the value of your home by using shoddy materials, you may have refused to pay the balance of their invoice when they completed the work. Under New York law, they could potentially get a lien against the property that would compel you to pay.

How a lien impacts you

When an individual or business secures a lien against your home, that lien impacts your right of ownership. A lien is a formal record on the title of the property that will impact your ability to transfer or sell the property. Whenever you decide to refinance or sell the property, the lien has to be paid in full before you can receive any proceeds from the transaction.

In some cases, the placement of a lien is inappropriate because the debt is invalid, or you already paid it. Other times, you will need to pay a debt in order to have a lien removed from your title. If you worry about a current or potential lien against your property, talking about the debt and your property with a lawyer familiar with New York real estate law could give you better ideas about the best decision for your situation.