How to Put a Lien on the Debtor’s Real Property

en español>

If the judgment debtor has not paid the judgment debt when it is due, or made arrangements to pay it over time, California law gives the judgment creditor the right to put a lien Opens new window on the debtor’s real property (home or other real estate). With a lien you will not get paid automatically, but because liens are paid first, you will get your money and interest if the debtor tries to refinance or sell the property. (See California Code of Civil Procedure, Sections 697.310 through 697.410) Opens new window

  • You may put a lien on the debtor’s real property located in any county in California. 
  • Only one lien is necessary for all of the property located in one county.  To find any county recorder’s office in the state, click here. Opens new window
  • The lien is good for 10 years (or as long as the judgment is valid).

To put a lien on the debtor’s real property

Step 1.
Get an Abstract of Judgment – Civil (Form EJ-001Opens new window issued by a court clerk.
    To learn how to get an Abstract issued, click here.  There will be a fee.
Step 2. Make 2 copies of the Abstract for your file.

Step 3.
Take or mail the original Abstract of Judgment to the County Recorder's office in the county where you believe the judgment debtor owns real property. There will be a recording fee.

NOTE: Some county assessors (government tax collector’s office for any county) will tell you if a judgment debtor owns real property in their county over the phone. To find any county assessors’ office in California, click here. Opens new window

You will be paid when the judgment debtor is refinancing or selling the property.

IMPORTANT:  When you are fully paid you must remove the lien and file an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment (Form EJ-100) with the court. 
See the section on Satisfaction of Judgment.

To learn how to remove a lien see the section on How to Remove a Lien.


Did this information help you?  Tell us what you think.