by Tom Streissguth
Liens on property must be filed with the local clerk of court.
A "mechanic's" or "construction" lien protects the provider of services whose charges to the owner for repairs, improvements or maintenance have gone unpaid. These services have to be done to improve or maintain the value of the property. The contractor files the lien with the country recorder or clerk of court. Homeowners are responsible for charges by contractors as well as the subcontractors who, in theory, were to be paid by the contractor. California requires a 20-day notice to the owner before a contractor may file the lien.
A lien on the property also exists when a mortgage loan is used to purchase the home. In exchange for use of the money needed to purchase the home, the lender has a legal claim on the property, as evidenced by
the mortgage note that the borrower must sign at the sale closing. A mortgage lien, if unsatisfied by timely repayment of the loan, may result in a foreclosure by the lender and sale of the home at auction.
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