Judgment Liens in Connecticut: How to Secure Money JudgmentsFebruary 11, 2021
Secure Money Judgments by Filing Judgment Liens on Real Estate
Money judgments entered in Connecticut can be secured by filing a Judgment Lien on Connecticut real estate owned by the judgment debtor. Recording judgment liens on real estate should be among the first steps taken by judgment creditors after obtaining a money judgment. Included among the reasons, is that a judgment lien (1) provides lien security (to otherwise unsecured debt) effective for twenty years after the judgment enters, (2) can be recorded within the appeal period and during an appeal without violating the appellate court stay, (3) can survive a bankruptcy discharge should the judgment debtor file for bankruptcy after the judgment lien is recorded, (4) often results in the judgment debtor voluntarily paying the judgment to obtain a release of the lien, frequently in connection with the debtor’s desire to sell or refinance the real estate encumbered by the judgment lien, and (5) can be foreclosed (similar to a mortgage) permitting the judgment creditor to liquidate the debtor’s real estate to recover on the judgment.
Procedure to Record a Judgment Lien on Real Estate
The procedure for recording a judgment lien on real estate is set forth by Connecticut General Statutes Sections 52-380a, 52-351a, 52-328 and 52-356a. The principal requirement (per 52-380a) is that the judgment creditor record a judgment lien certificate on the land records in the municipality where the debtor’s property is located, signed by the creditor or their attorney, and including the following information: (1) the name and address of the creditor and debtor, (2) the terms of the judgment including the court that entered the judgment, date of the judgment, original amount of the judgment, and amount due on the judgment, (3) a description of the debtor’s property to be attached by the judgment lien, and (4) a statement that the judgment lien is placed on the property to secure the amount due on the judgment. The judgment creditor (per 52-351a) is also required to send a copy of the judgment lien to the judgment debtor at their last known address by first class mail postage prepaid.
The priority of the judgment lien (per 52-380a) is established by the date that the lien is recorded, unless the judgment creditor previously attached the property prior to judgment (e.g., through a prejudgment attachment per 52-285). In this case, the lien priority will relate back to the date that the prejudgment lien was recorded, provided the judgment lien is recorded within four months of the judgment entering and includes substantially the following language: “This lien is filed within four months after judgment in the action was rendered and relates back to an attachment of real property recorded on (month) (day) (year), at Volume __ Page __ of the __ Land records.” Mac’s Car City, Inc. v. Diloreto, 238 Conn. 172 (1996).
Judgment creditors can and should secure money judgments by recording judgment liens on Connecticut debtor-owned real estate. This post judgment collection action can greatly increase the judgment creditor’s recovery on their judgment.
Disclaimer This article is for educational purposes only and to give you a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists by reading this article. This article should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.