Mechanics Lien for Unpaid Contractors

When used by a contractor, a mechanics lien acts to ensure that the contractor gets paid for the services and materials provided for a construction job. A mechanics lien arises for contractors at the point where the contractor buys materials and starts making improvements on the property. If the party responsible for paying the contractor fails to make a payment, the contractor may be protected by a mechanics lien.

How is a Contractor Protected by a Mechanics Lien?

A contractor is protected by a mechanics lien when the other party to the construction contract (i.e. the site manager) fails to pay the contractor for the goods and services provided. Since the contractor would only have the right to take action against the party who the contract was made with (i.e. the site manager), the contractor would not have any real claim over the improvements made to a home or against the owners of that improved home because they were not parties to the contact.

What Kinds of Contractors are Covered by Mechanics Liens?

Generally speaking, any contractor (i.e. sub-contractor, service provider, commercial artisan, etc.) is covered by the mechanics lien statute of their respective state. Specifically, the following are considered contractors and are commonly protected under the mechanics lien statutes:

  • Carpenters and their laborers;
  • Electricians and their teams;
  • Plumbers and their crew;
  • Mechanical engineers;
  • Lumber yards and other suppliers of goods; and
  • Architects and civil engineers on the project.

Why Would a Contractor File a Mechanics Lien?

In order to protect contractors from potentially significant loss, a contractor who was not paid would file a mechanics lien against the property where the work and services were performed. All of the U.S. states have all passed mechanics lien statutes that give contractors a right to the property itself even in cases where no contract was signed by the homeowners. If the home is sold or refinanced, the mechanics lien will ensure that the appropriate proceeds go to the contractor.

The End Result

The end result of a contractor getting a mechanics lien is that the contractor will not be left without recourse in the event that they are not paid, and the individual homeowner will be be the subject of a lawsuit based on a contract to which they were not a party. The contractor mechanics lien provides an equitable solution that allows for the contractor to be justly compensated for the services and goods provided.

Getting Legal Help

While mechanics liens may be a good option for most contractors, they can be difficult to set up and enforce. Since every state has their own legislation regarding mechanics liens, it is beneficial for a contractor to enlist the services of an attorney when trying to recover using a mechanics lien. By getting the proper representation and guidance from the outset, contractors will likely be able to recover a greater portion of the money owed to them when they have an attorney working on the case.

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