How do we go about initiating a lien on abandoned property?

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How do we go about initiating a lien on abandoned property?

My friend let a person store some vehicles on his property for a fee. That person has since disappeared and he owes my friend money for storing these vehicles. It looks like this person is not coming back and my friend wants to know if he can put a lien on this person’s property so he can collect his fee. How do we go about this?

Asked on March 14, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Placing a lien on property is not the same as considering property abandoned. Do you know if these vehicles were subject to loans (i.e., prior liens)? You might be able to easily find out by looking up the VIN numbers at the local branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles. This way you can find out if there is an existing lien. If there is, and you wish to go through court proceedings to file a lien for monies owed, you need to get a judgment from the court that a) the statute of limitations has not run on your contractual arrangement to collect those monies owed presupposing the court finds there is a legally binding agreement and b) those monies are owed to you. Once you get that judgment, and no payment has been made, then you can file for the next phase, which involves not only obtaining a lien but can also involve wage garnishment. If there is an existing lien, you would hold second position; the first position holder is the one who initially lent the money for the vehicle. The other method (assuming no liens on the car) is to find out in your state what constitutes abandoned property, how to notify the person who may have abandoned his property (usually certified or registered mail) and how long one needs to wait until the item is finally considered abandoned.


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