A lien is simply a security interest. The most common type of lien that most of us are familiar with is a mortgage. If you buy a home and you take out a mortgage from a bank then that mortgage is a lien against the real estate. What a lien means is that the person who holds the lien or in whose favor it exists has certain rights if you do not pay back the debt that you owe them pursuant to the agreement that has been entered into. Under the terms of a mortgage if you do not make the mortgage payments then the mortgage company may foreclose on your property, that is they may sell it at an auction to recover the amount of money that they loaned you plus the interest due plus expenses.
Other types of liens that arise may be seen in the context of personal injury claims where health insurance companies typically will assert a lien against any recovery for the medical bills that they have paid on your behalf. There are many other types of liens that exist.
A mechanic’s lien is one asserted by a workman or supplier who has done work or supplied goods for your real estate. That party may file a mechanics lien against your property if you do not pay what is owed. A garage keeper’s lien is a lien against your vehicle for the value of work performed on the vehicle.
See Brien Roche’s book Law 101 published by Sphinx Publishing for more information on this subject.
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For more information about liens see the pages on Wikipedia.