The Ticktin Minute June 19, 2017 – Overview of Specific vs. General Liens

Overview of Specific vs. General Liens

There are two different types of liens that an individual may have over real property; specific and general. A specific lien is granted only with respect to a particular asset. In foreclosure, the specific asset is the real property that is subject to the foreclosure. A specific lien also occurs in the context of real estate property taxes owed on a subject property. In this instance, the local government has the power to foreclosure on the property. This is the reason why most lenders require that the real estate property tax payments be escrowed.

A general lien is on the opposite side of the spectrum. A general lien is a lien on all property, both real property and personal property that an individual owns, not just one specific real property (like in the case of a foreclosure). For instance, a general lien can stem from an Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) tax lien pursuant to income taxes owned by a taxpayer to the federal government. Specifically, if a person owes income taxes to the IRS it would be classified as a general lien against all real property and personal property of the delinquent taxpayer. This would result in a lien over the subject property, as well as bank accounts, vehicles, and other assets owed by the taxpayer.

Liens can also be classified as voluntary or involuntary. Specific liens are typically voluntary liens. Voluntary liens are placed on the subject property with the consent of the owner. This is usually done through the loan documents (mortgage and promissory note). The property owner voluntarily creates a debt, which results in a voluntary lien. This is also the case where there is a payment due pursuant to a homeowner’s association or condominium owner’s association. The condominium or homeowner’s association documents grant the association a voluntary lien. A general lien would usually be an involuntary lien since the homeowner typically does not consent to such lien. Instead, the lien is placed on the property regardless of such non-consent.

For more information on foreclosure or assistance with a property that is being foreclosed on, contact the attorneys of the Ticktin Law Group for a complimentary preliminary consultation.