Put a lien on property

If the other side owns real estate in California, you can put a lien on that property so that if they ever sell or refinance the property you might get paid. To do this, you first need an Abstract of Judgment

About liens

A lien is like a public mark put on property that shows up in government files. Banks look for liens when they’re financing (for example, if the property sells) or refinancing a property. So, if there’s a lien you will probably get paid when whoever owes you money sells or refinances their home or other real estate they own. 

A lien doesn't mean you will be paid right away, 

but if whoever owes you money refinances or sells their property, you may get paid your money.

If you don’t want to wait for the other side to sell or refinance their property, you can look into having the sheriff sell the property at auction. This involves a levy on the property and its sale.

This is an involved process and there are a lot of rules.  If there is a dwelling (like a house) on the property, then the court will supervise the process.  If it is where the debtor lives then there is even more regulation and supervision. It does not work if what's sowed is a consumer debt and the property is where the judgment debtor lives.  Visit the law library or ask a lawyer for help.

How to put a lien on someone's property

  • Fill out Abstract of Judgment

    • Abstract of Judgment Civil and Small Claims (form EJ-001)

    An Abstract of Judgment is a summary of the full judgment.

  • Get Abstract certified and pay fee

    Bring the Abstract of Judgment to the civil court clerk. The clerk will issue it. There is a fee (about $25) for this. If you can't afford the fee, you can ask the clerk for a fee waiver.

    You need one issued Abstract for each county where you plan to record the lien.

  • Make copies

    Make a copy of each issued Abstract. This is for your records.

  • Record the Abstract

    Take the Abstract of Judgment and a copy to the county recorder's office in the county where you think the debtor owns real estate.

    There is a recording fee. The recorder will keep the original Abstract and give you the recording information on the copy. They will send you back the original after the recording is done.

    The county recorder will let the debtor know that you recorded the Abstract of Judgment.

    If the properties are all in the same county, you only need to record 1 Abstract of Judgment in that county. 
    If the properties are in different counties,
    you need to record 1 Abstract of Judgment in each county where there's property.


You've put a lien on the property in that county (if they have any). If the debtor refinances or sells the property, you may get paid your money.

Civil judgment collections

What's next?

If you aren't paid, you can keep trying to collect other ways and have some of the costs of trying to collect added to what's owed.

If you were paid the full amount, you must let the court know by filing an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment (form EJ-100).

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