Under Pennsylvania law, a judgment entered against a debtor creates a judgment lien against any real property that your debtor owns in the county where the judgment was entered. This occurs by operation of law the moment the judgment is indexed. This is a valuable tool for creditors because now the debtor cannot sell or refinance that piece of real property without addressing your judgment.
However, this does not mean that all a creditor must do is sit back and wait for a sale or refinance by the debtor. As with all things collection related, it is important to be proactive. As a judgment creditor in Pennsylvania, you should continue to monitor the judgment because it must be revived prior to the passage of five (5) years from the date it was entered in order to maintain it’s priority. Additionally, you should keep an eye on any after acquired property by the debtor to which your lien will attach, as well as, any property acquired in other counties. In order to place a judgment lien on property in a county outside that county where the judgment was entered, a judgment creditor must index the judgment in the other county.
Revival of a judgment is done by writ. Under applicable rules, the debtor is served with the writ and may respond in the same fashion as an answer and new matter. If another entity or person has obtained title to the real property without the judgment lien being resolved, the writ of revival can be served upon them. Typically, if the writ is timely and procedurally correct there is no defense afforded the judgment debtor and you have maintained your judgment’s priority.
Maintaining judgment priority is a useful collection tip as it will prevent those creditors who arrive later in time to get ahead of you in line.