Lien

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A lien (pronounced "lean") is when someone or an entity, such as a bank, has a right to something of yours, such as your house or your car, because the bank lent you the money to buy it. Sometimes the existence of a lien is understood and accepted by everyone: if the bank has lent you a lot of money ( mortgage) to buy a house or condominium it makes sense that the bank has an ownership right to that property until you pay back the loan when the lien will be removed. In most states, if you don't pay the bank back and you default, the bank can take the house from you ( repossess) because of the lien. If you owe money to a contractor and he's tired of waiting for his money, he can get a lien put on your house (although it will cost him money to pay a lawyer to do it). If this happens, when you go to sell the house and the buyer does a title search, the title search should reveal the lien. The sale usually cannot proceed until the lien is removed, probably by you paying your debt.