What does a lien against a house mean?
A lien is a creditor's claim against a property. Two common examples of creditors are banks or contractors (mechanics). The claim may or may not be valid. As soon as the debt is paid the lien is removed. Paying off the debt and removing the lien are two separate actions. Once you pay off the debt a separate action removes the lien. Likewise, a lien (claim against the property) can be removed before the debt is paid.
A mortgage is a lien against a house; if the mortgage is not paid on time, the house can be seized to satisfy the lien.
If a civil judgment or lien is against you in South Carolina and you pay your house off can they take your home from you?
If you have a landlord then you don't own the house. A lien on a house would be against the owner of the property. The landlord owns the house and they wouldn't place a lien on their own property. If you owe a debt to a landlord they can file an eviction in the housing court and file a lawsuit against you for the money you owe.
Yes, a lien can be filed on a piece of real property, regardless of the owner. However, the reason for the lien has to be directly related to the actual owner or the property itself. i.e., if a trust owns a house and I live in the house, and you have a judgement against me, there is no attaching a lien on the house for my debt.
If you have a lien placed on your house does this mean you can't refinance your mortgage OR buy a new home until that lien is removed?
Yes and no. The contractor can file a lien against your house for non-payment. Even if you honestly don't owe the contractor any money, he may still lien your house; he will eventually have to prove the lien's validity in court or it is automatically released. No lien can be filed against your car. However, if the contractor gets a judgment against you, that judgment may be executed against your car and home to secure payment.
Can the lien against my property be released when the the original owner apparently with a tax debt died.?
Assuming you are talking about an IRS lien, then yes. If you were not liable for the taxes, then the lien should not be on your property. The first thing to determine is whether or not the lien actually attached to your property. If the previous owner of the house owned the house at the time the lien was filed, then the lien probably legally attached to the house. If this is the case, this is something you should take up with the title company that did the title work when you purchased the house. More common is that the IRS filed a lien and the address they had on record was still his old house (your house). Just because the lien had that address on it doesn't mean you have a lien on your house. If the property wasn't his, then it did not legally attach. If a title company still has issues with this (if you are trying to sell your house), you may need to get a Certificate of Non-Attachment from the IRS to show them that it's not attached.