A Mechanic’s Lien is a tool contractors use to get paid after doing work to a residential or commercial property.
Although there are many types, we’re only discussing those mechanic’s liens that apply to real property.
Criteria to Get a Mechanic’s Lien
In order to obtain a mechanic’s lien, the contractor must follow a very strict set of rules. Any failure in these rules will make their lien invalid.
- The contractor must have done, for pay, work to the real property or any building or fixture to the real property. The could also have supplied materials or equipment to do that work.
- The person claiming the lien must be a contractor, subcontractor, laborer, or supplier.
- Must be done under some form of contract. You cannot just improve someone’s house without permission!
- They also have to be in contract with the property owner. Therefore, a lessee of a property does not count.
- The lien must be served and filed within 120 days of the last day a service was provided by the contractor.
- The lien holder must file suit within 180 days of the last day a service was provided.
How to Get Rid of Mechanic’s Liens
I’ve dealt with a lot of mechanic’s liens over the years, and the worst thing you can do is ignore them.
The number one way to get rid of a lien on your property is to pay it. If the lien holder did the work on your property, their case is strong.
You can address inaccurate information in court or directly with the lien holder. Since the lien holder has to file suit within 180 days since the last day of service, this process moves quickly. If they miss that deadline, they can still sue, but their lien will likely become invalid.
You can also counter sue a lien holder if they’re using liens in a malicious way. Note: simply filing a lien is their right. Maliciousness requires something that is shocking to a judge.
In nearly every case, talking with the service provider is the best route. They’re typically small business owners trying to get what is fair. If they’ve made a mistake, it is cheaper for them to fix it with you than the court.
Additionally, open communication saves a lot of this mess. Before agreeing to any service, be sure you understand the terms. Both you and the contractor prefer the questions be upfront.