I am a joint owner of a property. The other three owners are my siblings. They have refused to pay for association dues, insurance and taxes for two years. I have kept ll there current. The other siblings are wanting to sell the property. The question is can I put a lien on this property for the total expenses paid by myself to insure that I am compensated if the property is sold?

5 months ago

In the description I used the first person. My wife is the actual owner of the property but I am doing the research for her.


Senior Legal Associate Levelset

Hey Richard! That’s a good question, and we get ones like this pretty often at the Ask an Expert Center. Generally, mechanics lien rights only arise when payment is owed but unpaid for construction work that improves the underlying property. So, at least in terms of mechanics lien rights – payment owed for association fees or otherwise investing in a property is generally not lienable.

As far as other types of liens an encumbrances – typically, in order to place a lien on property for a debt owed, the lien claimant must have a judgment in hand against the parties who owe them money. So, unless there’s been some litigation or small claims case, it might not be possible to secure payment via a lien on the property.

It is worth noting, though, that having part ownership in the property is pretty similar to obtaining a lien against the land, in terms of leverage. Liens work because they must generally be cleared before the property can be sold. They also provide the potential threat of foreclosure, but when the property is to be sold, usually the bigger issue is removing a lien so it can be sold.

Generally: the lien claimant won’t remove their lien, enabling the sale of the property, until payment is made. When property is jointly owned, one of the joint owners can typically prevent the other owners from selling the property that’s jointly owned (or at least make it a lot harder for them to sell it without the consent of each co-owner). So, if one of the co-owners refuses to put the property for sale until they’re repaid for association fees, taxes, and insurance – they might be able to force their co-owners to make payment before the property can be sold, similarly to the above-described situation with liens.

Admittedly, though, I’m no expert on the ins and outs of Nebraska real estate law. So, if the payment dispute is becoming a serious problem, it might be a good idea to consult a local real estate attorney to help provide some insight on the situation. They’ll be able to review your circumstances and advise on how best to proceed. Of course, sites like Avvo.com and JustAnswer.com also provide the ability to ask legal questions and receive answers from licensed attorneys, and those sites will have attorneys available for questions outside of the realm of construction payment and construction law. Good luck!

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