Liens against property that cause problems with the title can arise in several different settings. These include:
Mechanic's liens — Many property liens come in the context of construction projects. If a contractor or subcontractor doesn't get paid, a mechanic's lien may be filed against the property. Even if there is some doubt as to the validity of the underlying claim, the lien can cloud the title to the property, making it difficult to sell.
Tax liens — When the owner of real property has tax debt, the IRS or a state revenue agency can file a claim against it. Though tax authorities do not need to obtain a formal judgment in order to levy on the property, taxpayers have certain rights — known as collection due process rights — that must be respected.
Deeds of trust — When someone takes out a loan, the lender may receive a deed of trust to secure the loan. If there is a problem with repayment, this can turn into a lien against real property.
Judgments — Even if a pending lawsuit has not resulted in a judgment, it can throw a cloud of uncertainty over a possible sale of property owned by the person facing the suit.
Liens / abstracts of judgment— Many title defects that affect the sale of real estate involve liens such as these. They need to be resolved before the property can sell. If they are not, they become like a decaying tooth, eating away at the marketability of property.