Judgments have expiration dates. If they are not timely renewed, they expire. In CA that is 10 years. However, when a judgment lien has been recorded against your property, it has no expiration date. This means that it is possible to no longer have a judgment against you, but still have a judgment lien on your property.
There is only two ways to get the lien removed, or as I like to put it, only two people can remove a judgment lien:
- The person who recorded it (typically the judgment creditor’s lawyer). This means you must get the judgment creditor to remove the lien by recording a Release of Lien. Many times, they don’t respond, or they simply refuse to do it. Sometimes they cannot even be located or have died, leaving you with a judgment lien.
- A Judge. For this you must file an Application for an Order to Remove a Lien of Real Property with the court, serve it on the other side, and have a hearing. Once you get the Judge’s Order, you must then file with the County Recorder’s office where the real property is located.
Here is an actual case Order we obtained for a client:
Application of Defendant for an Order to Remove a Lien of Real Property. No party has filed opposition to this motion. On 12 August 2009, judgment creditor entered judgment against defendant on the property located at XXXX Sierra Vista Court in the City of San Jose. Judgment lien was never renewed. The motion is GRANTED. (Code of Civil Procedure, Sec. 128 (Benefit Fin v. Durkee (1988) 206 Cal. App. 3d 912, 915). Counsel for moving parties to bear an appropriate order and forward it to this Department via the clerk’s e-filing queue for execution.
This can be a cumbersome process, but it is the only way to get the lien off the property. The County Recorder simply will not remove the lien themselves. A Court Order is required if the opposing counsel can’t or won’t do it. This is a real problem if you are in the middle of an escrow or when changing title to the property in any way. When you need this done, it usually must be done right away so you want to use a firm that has done if before successfully.
If you have a judgment lien on your property, it is definitely worth your while to have it reviewed by experienced counsel to see how to get it removed. Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC is a law firm that represents consumers on judgment related matters. We file motions like this and resolve debts every single day. We can do it for you.