When you hire a contractor to complete a construction job, you generally work directly with him or her. In some cases, however, your contractor may hire additional workers with whom you won’t have any contact. When this happens, the primary contractor is typically responsible for paying these workers, but in cases that involve a mechanic’s lien, you, the property owner, may find yourself responsible for making these payments.
What is a Mechanic’s Lien?
Also known as a construction lien, a mechanic’s lien is a type of hold that is placed upon a piece of real property to ensure that payment is made for services rendered to the property. A renowned New York construction law office, Canfield, Madden & Ruggerio suggests that every building project include a mechanic’s lien to guarantee client/contractor satisfaction and, of course, payment. If a mechanic’s lien is issued on a piece of property that is being constructed or worked on, payment must be made to the workers who completed the tasks or the property owner may face financial difficulties.
What Happens When a Mechanic’s Lien is Recorded?
Once a mechanic’s lien has been recorded, it will remain on the title of the property, and this can make it difficult for the property owner to sell or refinance the property in the future. Additionally, depending upon the amount of money that is owed to the contractor and his or her subcontractors and laborers, the property may be foreclosed upon in order to make payment. Some property owners may also find themselves double paying for the work that is being done. This happens when the property owner pays the primary contractor, but the primary contractor does not pay the subcontractors. If this occurs, the property owner is ultimately responsible for paying the subcontractors or a lien may be recorded.
If Your Lien is Ignored
If you’re a construction professional and you’re facing a property owner who is ignoring your mechanic’s lien, it’s important to know that you have a right to be compensated for your work. In order to do this, you may need to file a lawsuit against the property owner who is ignoring the mechanic’s lien. Unless you have extensive experience in the courtroom, filing a lawsuit on your own can be a lengthy and difficult process. Instead, most experts agree that construction professionals who have found themselves in this type of situation should partner with an attorney instead.
The Benefits of a Construction Attorney
When you work with a construction attorney, he or she can examine the specifics of your case and offer you options regarding your quest for compensation. In some situations, your attorney may be able to contact the property owner directly to have the matter resolved outside of court. If the property owner is uncooperative, your attorney can then bring the matter before a judge. In court, your attorney can represent you and the subcontractors to whom you may owe money, and you may not even need to be in the courtroom to have your case heard.
It’s important for you to keep in mind, however, that you need to keep detailed records of each project you work on. This means keeping any and all contracts between yourself and any property owners, any receipts that you’ve received for payments and so on. If your case does end up before a judge, you’ll have an easier time proving nonpayment using this evidence, especially if the property owner tries to cover the truth.
Sarah Bishop is a freelance writer and law enthusiast who contributes this post for Canfield, Madden & Ruggiero, a New York-based construction law office with extensive experience in defending their clientele’s contracts. If you are in danger of not being paid by a client, in violation of your mechanic’s lien, then take the first step to protect your rights and seek the consult of a construction law attorney.