Mechanic’s lien rights have become a popular jargon in the construction industry. They’re powerful tools that contractors, subcontractors, labor/material suppliers, and other project participants can use to protect themselves from the risk of not being paid for services rendered.
However, many persons in the construction industry remain unaware of how construction liens work or how to enforce their lien rights in a worst-case scenario.
Hence, in this article, we’ll walk readers through the basics of lien rights and factors you need to consider before the construction begins, during, and after it ends. Moreover, we’ll share how to establish your lien rights and five valuable tips to preserve them.
Lien rights refer to a contractor’s, subcontractor’s, or supplier’s authority to file a mechanic’s lien against property owners legally. It’s a means of enforcing payment for work performed or rendered services in the event of prolonged delays or reluctance to pay.
In other words, lien rights provide a form of security against financial risks as they provide a legal claim on the property title and revoke the owner’s right to sell it or refinance the property, until they are paid what they are owed for the job performed.
Unpaid parties providinglabor and materials for a private commercial or residential project can also file a mechanic’s lien to protect their interest and eventually receive payment from the property owner by perfecting their claim in court. In layman’s terms, enforcing your lien’s rights is equivalent to placing a wheel clamp on the property on which you’ve just completed work. .
Mechanic’s liens can also enforce a lawsuit that could prompt property owners to pay more than what they owe, depending on the damages caused to unpaid parties during the period, such as project losses, failed loan payments, etc.
However, to establish your lien rights, you must be highly proactive and do your due diligence to ensure you’re well prepared by providing the property owner and all parties involved in the project with a Preliminary Notice to Owner; without one being provided or filed, you cannot establish your Lien Rigts to begin with. Read further…
As with anything involving courts and legal proceedings, you must adhere to certain rules and regulations. In most states, you must provide the owner with a preliminary notice outlining all the parties involved in the job and the total amount owed for the project.
The Mechanic’s Lien will be filed with the county where the property is located if the property owner does not pay the full amount by the deadline, ranging from a few weeks to a whole year following completion, depending on the state.
The Preliminary Notice to Owner must be sent days so many days in advance or within the timeline provided by each State when providing labor or materials. The Preliminary Notice is to be sent to all the parties involved in the job besides the property owner.
Some states require Preliminary Notices to be sent during the project or following completion, such as Arizona (20 days after starting), Arkansas (75 days before completion), and Indiana (60/90 days after completion). Moreover, it’s also smart to send a Preliminary Notice to establish your Lien Rights even if your State doesn’t require one at all or requires one in certain circumstances. States with these conditions include Texas, Hawaii, Nebraska, Idaho, and Pennsylvania.
After sending the notice, you need to preserve your Lien Rights by following strict deadlines and not missing out on tasks or documentation. Otherwise, you could lose your Lien Rights.
The following are some valuable tips you can use to preserve your Lien Rights to ensure you’re paid what you’re owed for work performed or services rendered:
The last thing you want is to have relevant information missing from your Mechanic’s Lien. Remember, judges are instructed to review these documents carefully and identify, invalidate, and even scrutinize any inaccuracies. Hence, you need to ensure the Mechanic’s Lien contains precise information related to the project type, property owner, contractor, licensing information, lender, bond, if applicable, etc.
Preparing multiple contracts is among the best strategies you can use to preserve your Lien Rights. The process involves drafting separate purchase orders and labor contracts with one master contract so you can file multiple Mechanic’s Lien claims.
When filing a Mechanic’s Lien claim, make sure you pay attention to the property’s description and remove any bare land that may not be a part of your project to ensure the courts enforce your contract. This is one of many loopholes owners try to exploit to delay or refuse payment.
To preserve your Lien Rights before beginning work, make sure the owner is aware you’re the contractor working on the project, especially if you don’t have a direct contract. Ideally, you should send Notice to the Owner at least 45 days before procuring labor or materials for the job site.
Most Lien Release forms have through dates that free owners of any rights contractors, suppliers, or other unpaid parties have up over them during the lien period. So, before you sign it, make sure you check the amount on the form and ensure it matches your calculations. The last thing you want is to sign a document without reading the fine print first.
As mentioned earlier, you can’t establish and preserve your lien rights unless you issue a pre-lien notice to all responsible property owners. Moreover, you need to ensure your Preliminary Notice is drafted correctly as per your State’s laws and delivered timely.
Therefore, there’s little margin for error, as even the smallest mistakes could stop you from getting paid what you’re owed.
i-Lien is a game-changing software solution designed to help automate and authenticate the Preliminary Notice drafting process. The solution has been integrated with different State laws and regulations.
Hence, you can save hours of research and avoid any costly errors. i-Lien also enables you to create a wide array of other legally-binding documents, Lien Warning Notices, Waivers and Releases, , Commencement Notices, and more.
So, get in touch with our team and explore what our innovative mechanic’s liens solution has to offer.