Mechanic’s Liens Will Get You Paid

It’s an unfortunately all-too-common problem for contractors and material suppliers: you performed work or supplied materials on a privately-owned construction project more than thirty days ago, but you still have not been paid.  You’ve contacted the project owner to inquire about the status of your payment, but you’re not getting any answers.  You’ve been patient, but you cannot wait forever to be paid for your work.  What can you do?

You should consider filing a mechanic’s lien.  A mechanic’s lien is a remedy for subcontractors, contractors, suppliers, and other construction professionals to resolve payment issues.  When you file a lien on property, the owner may not sell or refinance the property until those protected by the lien are paid in full.  There are many advantages to filing a lien:

  • Liens are inexpensive to file. While it is not necessary to hire an attorney to file a lien, it is advisable that you do so, given that there are many specific statutes governing the filing and service of liens.  Connecticut courts interpret these statutes very strictly, so you will want to make sure that your lien has been prepared by someone familiar with these laws.  An experienced construction attorney can usually gather all of the necessary information and draft a lien in just a few hours.  In addition to legal fees, you will also be required to pay for the lien to be filed on the town land records and served on the property owner.  When all is said and done, the total cost to draft and file a lien is usually less than two thousand dollars, sometimes significantly less.
  • Liens get immediate results. Oftentimes, just the threat of a lien will facilitate prompt payment.  No owner wants a lien on his or her property.  An owner typically cannot sell the property until all liens have either been discharged or paid.  Moreover, liens interfere with the funding of a project.  Most lenders will not advance funds on a construction project until they are satisfied that all contractors and suppliers have been paid.  That is why construction loans usually require the owner to keep the property free from liens.  A mechanic’s lien is therefore an extremely effective attention-getting device.
  • Your claim is secured by a lien. Your lien attaches to the property itself, so assuming there is sufficient equity in the property to satisfy your claim and the owner has not paid for your work (and there are no other claimants with superior lien rights), you are assured of payment.  It doesn’t matter if the property owner owes money to other creditors who have not filed liens, nor does it matter if the owner does not have other available assets to pay you.  Ultimately, the property will be foreclosed and the proceeds of the sale will be used to satisfy your claim (or, in the case of a strict foreclosure, you will actually become the owner of the property yourself).
  • You are entitled to your attorney’s fees if you are required to foreclose your lien. While it can be costly to foreclose a lien, you are entitled by statute to recover your attorney’s fees once the foreclosure action is complete.  This is very unusual in the American judicial system- litigants are typically required to pay for their own legal fees.  The fact that the owner may be required to pay your attorney’s fees gives you significant leverage when demanding and negotiating payment.

If you would like to know more about liens, or would like assistance filing a lien on property located in Connecticut, we would be happy to speak with you.  Our attorneys routinely file and foreclose mechanic’s liens and will make sure that your lien complies with all statutory requirements.  You deserve to be paid for your work in a timely fashion- let us help you by filing a lien or taking other appropriate action.

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Michelson, Kane, Royster & Barger P.C.

At Michelson, Kane, Royster & Barger P.C., our goal is to provide our clients with the advice and representation they need in order to meet their legal and practical objectives. Our team is experienced, collaborative, knowledgeable, and friendly. Several of our award-winning attorneys play key roles in construction organizations, and even help to shape the laws that affect the construction industry in Connecticut. Let us put our experience to work for you.

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