How do I put a judgment lien on the debtor's car title?
Written by Kerry S. Doolittle   
Friday, 09 April 2010

Someone owes you money.  You took that person to court and won.  Now you have a judgment against that person, but he or she will not pay you.  What do you do now?  If that person owns a motor vehicle with a significant amount of value and no lien on the title, you can use the Sheriff's Office to levy upon (or seize) the vehicle and sell it on the court house steps.  But, if the vehicle has a lien you do not want to do that because you will have to pay off that prior lien first and the sale of the vehicle may not bring enough money to cover that prior lien and pay anything toward your claim.

In that case, you can still put a notice of your judgment lien on the title to their car.  When the prior lien is paid off, the car title is sent to you as the next lien holder, rather than to the owner. 

 

The first step is to obtain a judgment against the person who owes you money.  In Georgia, if the amount is $15,000.00 or less, you can file a statement of claim in the Magistrate Court of the County where the debtor lives without hiring an attorney to represent you.  This saves you a lot of time and money compared to the alternative of filing a lawsuit in State or Superior Court.

The second step is to request the clerk of that court issue a Writ of Fieri Facias (or "Fi. Fa." for short).  Once issued you will need a certified copy of the Fi. Fa. to submit with the certificate of lien form, also provided by the clerk of the court.  (Hang on to the original.  Fi. Fa.'s are hard to replace.)

The third step is to request a title search to find out if the debtor has a vehicle titled in his or her name.  Knowing a make, model and tag number helps since the debtor's name may vary. 

Form MV-20 is used to request a title search for information about vehicles owned by the debtor. The fee is currently $1.00 per title.

With the title information provided by the state, the fourth step is to place the lien on the title.

Form T-53A is used to place a judgment lien on a title.

Finally, once the debt is collected, Form T-4 is used to satisfy or cancel a lien.

In each case you are submitting the forms as a Judgment Creditor.

The forms can be found at:

http://motor.etax.dor.ga.gov/ forms/motor.aspx

I hope you find this useful.

Kerry S. Doolittle