lien, claim or charge held by one party, on property owned by a second party, as security for payment of some debt, obligation, or duty owed by that second party. A lien may arise by agreement between the parties or by operation of law from the relation of the parties or the circumstances of their dealings. A special lien applies only to a specific property and any obligations related to it. A general lien can be enforced on a property for any unfulfilled debt in similar lines of business. Laborer's liens establish priority for the payment of employees in favor of general creditors in cases of bankruptcy; mechanic's liens similarly provide priority for the payment of contractors who provided goods and services for building projects. The holder of a first lien takes precedence over all other encumbrances on a piece of property. A tax lien is held by the state or federal government on property which may be foreclosed for nonpayment of taxes.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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