More on Judgment Liens and their Impact upon PA Homeowners: Lien Revival.

By Christopher C. Carr, Esq. Chester County bankruptcy attorney. 

Tel: 610-380-7969 Email: cccarresq@aol.com

Website: westchesterbankruptcyattorney.org

In my previous post on this topic, I discuss how a judgment lien can come to attach to your home and some ways to avoid such lien attachment.  However, due to unfortunate ambiguities in the wording of the relevant Pennsylvania statutes, there is another common misperception regarding what I will call the “extinguishment” of liens against land titles within the Commonwealth, which I would now like to dispel.

Under our statutes, recently recodified, (Pa. R.C.P. 3023, et seq.),  a lien attaches to all real property in the county of residence of a defendant automatically upon the entry of a judgment against that defendant’s name in the judgment register of the county but that judgment is only a lien against the real property which the judgment debtor owns at the time that the judgment is entered.  The lien lasts for a period of five years (Pa. R.C.P. 3023). It is technically correct that a judgment is not a lien against real property which the judgment debtor acquires after the judgment has been entered of record. Philadelphia Nat’l Bank v. Taylor, 421 Pa. 35, 218 A.2d 246, 247-48 (1946). It is also technically correct that the lien of a money judgment is lost if a proceeding to revive that judgment is not commenced before the expiration of a five-year period from the date the judgment was entered,  Shearer v. Naftzinger, 747 A.2d 859, 861 (Pa. 2000).

Many defendants, noting that five years or more has passed and the judgment against them has not been revived will blithely assume that a.) any real property they own is now free and clear of liens and will be so FOREVER and/or b.) that they can now safely purchase real estate in their own name without threat of a lien EVER attaching to it.  A lender (let’s call it “BB Bank” for Big Bad Bank) will be willing to lend against such property during this hiatus because they are assured of obtaining a first priority mortgage lien since this is a “fresh” transaction, e.g. the property was not owned by the defendant at the time the now lapsed judgment lien was first entered.  These poor unfortunates are wrong on both counts.  The judgment lien has not been extinguished, it has at best lapsed, subject to a potential statutory revival which is always available to the judgment creditor by institution of what is called a “praecipe for a writ of revival.”

For as the Explanatory notes published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin explain, a praecipe for a writ of revival substantially the form provided by Rule 3032 once granted by the court, has a dual function:  it i)  continues any lien which has not been lost at the time it is filed and/or creates a lien in all property then owned by the defendant (called “after acquired property”) .

It is important to recognize that the rules regarding real estate liens were enacted not to create a “safe harbor” for debtors but to permit of an orderly prioritization of liens on real property as between large corporate creditors and other entities.  That is, if you, the judgment creditor, allow your lien to lapse (by allowing the initial 5 year period to go by without filing a praecipe for a writ of revival), later lenders can step ahead of your lapsed priority and if and when you revive, your lien stands in an inferior position as to those filing in the interim, such as BBBank.  But sadly, if you are in the position of a homeowner who has acquired property during the hiatus we have been discussing, once the lien is revived, it WILL capture all property you own at that time, subject to the priority of the BBBank lien ahead of it.  That is, a judgment can by revival be made a lien against after-acquired real property by renewal of the lien after the real property has been acquired. 

How long does this right of revival go on?  Does it have any “statute of limitations”?  Well, in the words of Chief Justice Zappala in the concurring opinion in  Shearer v. Naftzinger, ibid at 861 ,  “There is no outer time limit to executing against real property to satisfy a judgment…”

In the related previous post, I discussed potential methods for avoiding the initial attachment of a lien, and in later (as yet unwritten) posts I intend to delve into how to prevent revived liens from attaching, despite the statutory scheme I have just been describing.  I will also describe the remedies the judgment creditor can use to enforce the collection of their money judgment, if not so defeated.

Note that this right of revival does not apply to personal property which is govened by a separate PA statute.

©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law 2009, 2012. All Rights Reserved

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  


I also provide Mortgage Modification Services.

Advertisements

The Telltale Signs of an Email Fraud

Edited by Jenny Greenhough of Rocket Lawyer | August 10, 2012

4 Share on emailEMAILShare on printPRINT

Rocket Lawyer Guest contributor Christopher C. Carr , Esq., MBA on how to spot a fraudulent client or transaction in your inbox. Slightly reedited for this blog publication.

                       

 

By Christopher C. Carr, Esq. Chester County bankruptcy attorney.

Don’t let a fraudster pull the wool over your eyes.

As discussed in my prior post, attorneys need to stay on alert for collection scams. Even for a savvy attorney, it’s easier to become an unwitting target of fraud than you may realize. For example, publicizing a big win in a lawsuit on your website may indeed bring you new clients, but some of them may actually be intent on profiting from a fraud perpetrated against your firm.

These scams can take on many guises. For example, a few weeks ago I got a very sophisticated scam letter. This time it was purportedly the representative of a Japanese law firm wanting local representation for litigation against debtors in the US. I immediately asked for his bona fides and he wrote back pretending to be insulted by my lack of trust. I then wrote back and explained that I had been taken in before and had lost some $2,000 in such a scheme and had thus adopted a policy whereby my firm holds all payments until final payment is issued to my bank by the depository bank on any settlement check (not just provisional payment because the check can still bounce until honored by the depositary institution).

Needless to say, I never heard from my Japanese “colleague” again.

Reading the signs

Let’s look at some if the identifying marks of this trade:

  1. Typos and other language errors: Note the punctuation errors and idiomatic problems in the text above. These are harbingers of this type of fraud and may actually be intentional for the purpose of hiding the true identity of the author from the authorities. However, the message will virtually always contain typos or non-idiomatic English usage, suggesting that the drafter is not even employed by the institution they claim to represent.
  2. No logos/Crude or Incomplete Logos: Another dead giveaway is a suspiciously “plain” appearance. But don’t use this as your only guide. I have recently begun seeing fake PayPal and even some bank items bearing an authentic looking logo.
  3. International debt collection: The message will nearly always solicit your assistance to collect a debt purportedly owed by some American commercial entity or ex-spouse of a foreign national.
  4. Different names: The account you are supposed to credit with the payment will not be in the same name as your client. There may be some excuse like “it’s my mother’s account and she has a different last name than mine.”
  5. Urgency: Anyone who pressures you to pay them however gently or subtlety should be immediately suspect; it means they’re trying to get paid before you receive notice of final payment.
  6. Slow build-up: Sometimes the scammers take a different route: they actually pay a couple of checks for smaller amounts to lull you into a false sense of security. Then they float a big rubber check with a reason like: “We are in a cash flow crunch, would you please pay us early just this once because you are holding up a lot of our money.” If you fall for it, the check bounces and they are never heard from again.
  7. Righteous indignation: When you express doubt about their claims or start asking questions, they respond as if they’re offended. In actuality, they’re trying to make you doubt your own better judgment.
  8. Reality check: As always if it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is!

So how do you test for legitimacy?

If you see any of the telltale signs above or anything else that makes you suspicious, make sure you:

  • Check their IP address. It should be in the same location as they claim.
  • Ask them to wait until you are notified of final payment. Just watch for the “slow build-up trick”.
  • Ask for their ID. Make sure it’s legitimate, and do some in depth Internet research as well to see if the company they claim association with is legit and has a real address where they say it is.

If you use caution, common sense, and follow the tips above, you should be able to spot a scammer without too much trouble. The old adage applies:  IF IT SEEMS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT MOST LIKELY IS. Otherwise, you and your family or coworkers could find yourself the victim of a home-shattering or firm-busting fraudulent transaction.
About the Author

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  


Mr. Carr blogs regularly on debt and bankruptcy topics at https://christophercarrlaw.wordpress.com/.

Related articles