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EXTENT OF LIEN OF JUDGMENT IN PENNSYLVANIA

A. Lien Against All Real Property of Judgment Debtor:

When entered of record, a judgment operates as a lien against all real property of the judgment debtor in the county in which it was filed. 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 4303(a) (1982). The lien of a judgment binds all real property of the debtor whether legally or equitably held. Clariton Corp. v. Chicago Title Ins. Co., 438 Pa. Super. 488, 652 A.2d 916, 919 (1995), allocatur denied, 665 A.2d 466 (1995); Parnes v. Hibbs, 191 Pa. Super. 56, 155 A.2d 426, 427 (1959). However, a judgment is not a lien against real property to which the judgment debtor holds only the bare record title and no beneficial interest. Sill v. Swakhamer, 103 Pa. 7 (1883).

B. Previously Conveyed and After-Acquired Real Property:

A judgment is only a lien against the real property which the judgment debtor owns at the time that the judgment is entered. A judgment is not a lien against real property which the debtor has previously conveyed in good faith. Davis v. Commonwealth Trust Company, 335 Pa. 387, 7 A.2d 3, 6 (1939). Similarly, 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). However, a judgment can be made a lien against after-acquired real property by revival of the lien after the real property has been acquired. Judgment Lien Law of July 3, 1947, P.L. 1234, 12 P.S. §880 repealed by Judiciary Act Repealer Act of April 28, 1978, P.L. 202 §2(a)). The Judgment Lien Law was suspended by the Pa. R.C.P. 3025 et seq., relating to the procedure for the revival of judgments, but these rules do not alter the substantive effect of the revival of judgments on after-acquired real property. Ladner on Conveyancing in Pennsylvania, § 16.01, n.11 (4th ed. 1994). See 42 Pa. C.S.A. §§ 1722, 4303. For a discussion of the procedure for the revival of judgments, see infra section VI.

C. Agreement to Restrict Lien: The lien of a judgment can, by agreement, be restricted to a particular piece or interest in real property of the judgment debtor. Stanton v. White, 32 Pa. 358 (1859). A restricted judgment, upon unconditional revival, becomes a general lien on all real property of the judgment debtor as of the date of revival. McMurray’s Administrators v. Hopper, 43 Pa. 468 (1863).

D. Entireties Real Property: A judgment entered against one spouse individually is not a lien against real property held by both spouses as tenants-by-the-entireties. Constitution Bank v. Olson, 423 Pa. Super. 134, 620 A.2d 1146, 1153 (1993); Klebach v. Mellon Bank, N.A., 388 Pa. Super. 203, 565 A.2d 448, 450 (1989), allocatur denied, 593 A.2d 420 (1991); Reliance Insurance Co. v. Schoolfield Construction Co, 14 Pa. D. & C.4th 490, 494 (1992); United States of America v. Chapuistat, 8 Pa. D. & C.4th 467, 471 (1990); Blusiewicz v. Rosenfield, 33 Pa. D. & C.2d 470, 473 (1964). However, upon divorce, spouses who previously held real property as tenants-by-the-entireties become owners as tenants-in-common. 23 Pa. C.S.A. § 3507(a) (1990); Weaver v. Weaver, 413 Pa. Super. 382, 605 A.2d 410, 411 (1992). Accordingly, in Bayer v. Bayer, 65 Pa. D. & C.2d 615 (1974), the court held that a judgment entered against one spouse prior to divorce becomes a lien against that spouse’s interest in real property as a tenant-in-common upon the entry of a divorce decree. Real property held as tenants-in-common is lienable by judgment creditors of the separate tenants. Wirtz v. Philips, 251 F. Supp. 789, 808 (W.D. Pa. 1965). A judgment against one party becomes a lien on the property upon death of the other spouse and the lien priority date is the date the judgment was entered. In the case of a bifurcated Divorce, while 68 P.S. 501 may operate to sever the tenancy by the entireties, the property does not loose its marital character. Jawork v. Jawork, 378 Pa. Super. 89, 548 A.2d 290 (1988). As marital property subject to an order of court, the property is in custodia legis pending compliance with the courts’ order, and is not subject to attachment until the court order has been complied with. Klebach v. Mellon Bank, N.A. 388 Pa. Super.203 565 A.2d 448 (1988)

E. Real Property Held or Sold Under an Agreement of Sale: A judgment against a vendee under an agreement of sale for the purchase of real property is a lien against the vendee’s equitable interest in the real property and binds the legal estate the moment it merges with the vendee’s equitable interest. Commonwealth v. Mars, 8 Pa. D. & C.2d 745 (1956). “A judgment against a vendor of land under an agreement of sale binds his legal estate as well as beneficial interest, an interest in the amount of the unpaid purchase price." Second National Bank v. Anderson, 71 Pa. D. & C.2d 471, 475 (1976) (citations omitted). If the judgment creditor has notice of the agreement prior to entering judgment, his lien only attaches to the unpaid purchase price of the real property. Id. See generally 21 P.S. §5351 (Pennsylvania recording statute).

F. Lien against Property during Divorce: Following a line of cases the Superior Court in Frantz v. Frantz 972 A.2d 525 (Pa. Super 2009) found that during the divorce proceeding, property held by the entireties was in custodia legis and not subject to a lien against either owner, and further even after divorce and the conversion of the tenancy, a lien could not attach. The Court relied on Klebach v. Mellon Bank, N.A., 388 Pa.Super. 203, 565 A.2d 448 (1989)

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