Can Creditors Take Your House in Georgia?

In Georgia, creditors cannot take your house, but they can put a judgment lien on your property. To do this, creditors must first have a judgment entered by the court – usually a settlement or verdict ordering the payment of money. When debtors do not pay, creditors can use judgment liens to protect their financial interests.

What Is a Judgment Lien?

According to Investopedia, “A judgment lien is a court ruling that gives a creditor the right to take possession of a debtor's real or personal property if the debtor fails to fulfill his or her contractual obligations.”

When creditors place judgment liens on homes, however, they do not typically collect unless the debtor sells or refinances their home. The creditor does not have a right to the property itself; instead, they have a right to any proceeds the sale or refinancing yields.

Another way to think about it is that the creditors have a claim to what the home is worth – not the home itself. In Georgia, some of the home’s value is protected by the homestead exemption which applies when the home is the debtor’s primary residence.

How Long Does the Judgment Lien Last?

If creditors put a judgment lien on your property, the lien will be enforceable for seven (7) years, even if the property changes hands.

If you wish to refinance or sell your home before the lien expires, you will need to pay off the lien, ask the court to vacate the judgment and remove the lien, or declare bankruptcy to void or reorganize your debts.

Having a lien on your property does not mean that you cannot sell or refinance it, especially if you are refinancing or selling your primary home. Additionally, most homeowners have a mortgage lien, and the judgment lien will take second priority.

Nevertheless, you should speak to an attorney if you have any kind of lien on your home and wish to sell your property. A lawyer can also help you if you are feeling overwhelmed by debt.

Explore Your Options with Busch, Reed, Jones & Leeper, P.C.

At Busch, Reed, Jones & Leeper, P.C., we have experience with real estate law, bankruptcy, and other relevant practice areas.

We can help you defend yourself from a judgment lien, resolve a judgment lien, or even find a fresh start with bankruptcy.

If you own a home in Georgia, you have many rights, especially if the house is your primary residence.

Explore your rights and legal options with our attorneys – call us at (770) 629-0154 or contact us online to get started with a consultation today.