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A lien exists when you owe money to a lender on a particular vehicle or other asset, such as real estate, that has been used as collateral on a loan.
An asset on which there's a lien can't be sold until the lienholder has been repaid. When you own an asset on which there's a lien, you risk having it repossessed if you default and don't make the required payments in full and on time.
A legally enforceable claim on the property of another as a result of a debt or obligation. It may be voluntary,such as a mortgage,or involuntary,such as a tax lien.It may be general,such as a judgment lien on all property within a county,or specific,such as a mortgage lien on the described property. One of the most important concepts in lien law is the priority among competing liens if property is insufficient to pay all claims or if the owner files for bankruptcy.The general rules are as follows (however,there may be local variations among the various states):
1. The first lien to be recorded is paid first, and so on in the order of recordation.
2. A statutory lien, such as a mechanics' and materialmen's lien, may be given artificial priority even though recorded after another lien.
3. Lien priority may be reshuffled if a debtor files for bankruptcy. The rules are too complex to examine here.
4. Lien-stripping takes place in bankruptcy when an asset is not worth as much as the accu- mulated liens placed upon it. Junior lienholders are stripped out and turned into unse- cured creditors. Even mortgage liens may be reduced in amount, if the real estate is not worth as much as the loan balance.
5. A landlord's statutory lien for unpaid rent can be avoided, or set aside, by a bankruptcy trustee, but a landlord's contractual lien cannot be avoided unless lien-stripping comes into play.