When an individual or entity wins a money judgment against a Florida resident, the plaintiff can record a lien against the defendant’s property. How long can a judgment be enforced against property in Florida? Read on to find out.
Understanding Judgment Liens – As Provided by Law
Florida Statutes §55.10 provides that a civil judgment becomes a lien attached to a debtor’s real property. The individual or entity who won the lawsuit against the debtor is referred to as the “judgment creditor.”
State law specifies that the judgment creditor must record a certified copy of the judgment in “the official records or judgment lien record of the county.” The creditor does not necessarily need to find the property’s exact address to attach a judgment against it.
Judgments are nonconsensual liens, as they are attached to a property without the debtor’s agreement. Recording a judgment against property is often the first collection tactic used by creditors in Florida.
After a judgment is placed against the debtor’s home, the creditor can escalate to tactics that include seizing one’s wages or draining a personal bank account to collect the owed amount.
This type of situation usually involves holders of unsecured debt, such as personal loans, credit card bills, or medical bills.
Judgment Liens vs. Florida Homestead Exemption
Article X of the Florida Constitution protects a debtor’s homestead from civil money judgments. As long as the debtor occupies the homestead property as his primary residence, a judgment creditor cannot attach a lien against it.
If the debtor decides to move out or abandon the property and no longer occupies the homestead as his primary residence, the judgment creditor can record a lien against it with a certified copy of the judgment.
Removing a Judgment Lien from a Property
The methods available to remove a judgment lien from a property are limited.
The first option is to pay the judgment in full. If the debtor has no money to pay the owed amount, another option is to settle the judgment with the creditor or file for bankruptcy. If applicable, the last option is to wait for the judgment’s expiration date.
Please note that only certified copies of the judgment can be used to record a lien. Accordingly, judgment creditors cannot record a lien without obtaining a certified judgment copy from the clerk of court.
How Long Can a Judgment be Enforced Against Property in Florida? – In Detail
Florida Statutes §55.081 provides that “no judgment, order, or decree of any court shall be a lien upon real or personal property within the state after the expiration of 20 years from the date of the entry of such judgment, order, or decree.”
Florida Statutes §55.10(3) specifies that “in no event shall the lien upon real property created by this section be extended beyond the period provided for in s. 55.081 or beyond the point at which the lien is satisfied, whichever occurs first.”
A judgment lien based on an underlying money judgment has a 10-year statute of limitations. After ten years, the judgment creditor can extend the lien for ten additional years by re-recording the judgment’s certified copy with the clerk of county.
If the judgment creditor fails to re-record the judgment at the end of the first 10-year period, Florida Statutes §55.10 provides that the judgment liens automatically expire.
Waste no Time with Uncertainty – Immediately Contact Jurado & Associates, P.A.
The guidance of a well-versed attorney from Jurado & Associates, P.A. can protect you against costly mistakes. Contact us by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] for an individual assessment.