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Judgment lien on real estate

If the person who owes you owns a home or other land, you can get a judgment lien on his or her real estate.  A judgment lien on real estate gives you an interest in the their home or other land that can allow you to collect the cash value of your judgment if the real estate enters foreclosure, or is refinanced, or is sold.

 Complete these steps to get a Judgment Lien on real estate:

  1. File a request for a Certificate of Judgment with the Clerk at the Garfield Heights Municipal Court with a $40.00 fee to prepare the Certificate of Judgment. 
  2. File the Certificate of Judgment at the Court of Common Pleas in the County where the property is located.
  3. Let the person who owes you the money know about the Judgment Lien by personally writing to them. Let them know that a lien has been filed and will not be removed until they pay the judgment

If you are placing a lien on property in Cuyahoga County, file the Certificate of Judgment at the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas located at 1200 Ontario Street, 2nd Floor, Cleveland, OH 44113

Learn the basics about judgment liens against property in Ohio.

What if the person who owes me does not pay after the lien is filed? 

If the judgment is not paid after you file the lien, you have the following options:

  • You can wait until they sell or refinance the property. Your lien may be paid if there is enough money from the sale or refinance to satisfy your lien.  Often, a debtor will try to pay a judgment to get a loan or to refinance a home.
  • You can wait until the property is sold as the result of a foreclosure. The money from the sheriff’s sale may satisfy your lien.
  • You can seek to foreclose on the property.  You should talk to a lawyer to find out about your rights and to see whether the costs would make it practical to foreclose.

If you choose any of these options, it is important that you inform the Common Pleas Court if your address changes.

How long will the judgment lien stay on the real estate? 

A judgment lien on real estate remains in effect for five years.  You may not be able to collect a judgment right away through a judgment lien on real estate, but it will ensure that the property cannot be sold or refinanced within the next five years without dealing with your lien. 

You may renew the lien every five years if necessary. If payment is delayed, you can collect interest from the date of judgment.  You cannot collect interest during the time the lien is expired (the judgment is "dormant").