What is a Mechanic’s Lien?

Men on roof
Mechanic’s liens, in spite of their name, are usually used by suppliers and contractors. They are used to place a legal claim or security interest in the title to or against property that has been improved, repaired or remodeled. An example of this happening to you is when you pay a contractor for new windows in your home and the supplier doesn’t get paid for them by the general contractor. Then a lien can be placed against your home in order for the supplier to recoup the money he has not been paid by the responsible party, your contractor.
Shady General Contractors
Shockingly, most homeowners don’t realize that it doesn’t matter that you paid the general contractor for the windows. So, if the subcontractor or supplier isn’t paid by the general contractor the laws allow the subcontractor to pursue you and the property that was improved. In the end, you may be required to pay for the windows again or being forced to sell your house. It is really important to understand how a mechanic lien works. It is most important to learn how to avoid them.
How Mechanic’s Liens Work
To get a mechanic’s lien, state law will usually require the subcontractor or supplier to do the following:

  1. The subcontractor or supplier, who does not contract directly with the homeowner, must provide notice to the homeowner of what is being contributed, typically within 20-30 days of contribution.
  2. If the subcontractor/supplier isn’t paid, they must file a “claim of mechanic’s lien” in the county where the property is located.
  3. The subcontractor/supplier then has typically two to six months to work out a solution with the property owner or file a lawsuit.

Lien Deadline
In some states, the lien deadline starts to count from the end of the entire construction project. Mechanics lien claimants in Florida must record their mechanics lien within 90 days from the last day they provided labor, services or materials to a construction or renovation project.
In most states, the lien will no longer have any further effect if the lawsuit is not filed in time. In Florida, mechanic’s liens generally last for a year after the recording date. It is in your best interest to get a court order to clear your property of the lien in the event that a lawsuit is not filed in time by the other party.
Length of Liens
Home contractors file and record mechanic’s liens against their customer homeowners; so, can subcontractors and other associated workers.
Normally, when a mechanics lien is foreclosed by its holder a foreclosure sale is forced on the homeowner.
A judgment lien in Florida will remain attached to the debtor’s property (even if the property changes hands) for ten years (real estate lien) or five years (personal property lien).
Call an Attorney
If you are having problems with homeowners not paying for supplies and labor or home improvements, then a mechanic’s lien might just be the way to recover expenses paid out for home improvement. If on the other hand, you are a homeowner you may need assistance with removing a mechanic’s lien. Call Massey and Duffy for a free consultation in order to provide you assistance with mechanic’s liens.


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