How Can A Mechanic’s Lien Cloud Title To Your Property?
Written by: Clementa Amazan
A mechanic’s lien is a security interest in the title to the property for the benefit of those who have supplied labor materials that improve the property. Today, we’re answering the questions we get asked most often about this cloud title.
Who Can File Mechanic’s Liens?
In Pennsylvania, the right to obtain a mechanic’s lien extend to contractors or suppliers who contract directly with either the property owner, the general contractor, or a subcontractor with a direct contract with the general contractor.
Design professionals, like architects and engineers, are also eligible if they have a direct contract with the property owner and provide some additional service such as supervision of the construction or repair.
When Is The Deadline For Filing A Mechanic’s Lien Claim?
A mechanic’s lien must be filed within 6 months from the last furnishing of labor or material to the construction project. This deadline is strictly enforced, as courts have dismissed mechanic’s liens claims because they were timed untimely.
However, the deadline for subcontractors is slightly different, in that all subcontractors and sub-subcontractors must serve a formal written notice of their intention to file a lien on the owner at least 30 days before filing the mechanic’s lien claim with the state court in which the property is located. Clients in Pennsylvania can learn more here.
What Should Be Included In Subcontractor’s Formal Notice Of Intent To File A Mechanic’s Lien Claim?
The formal written notice of intention to file must include:
- The name of the claimant,
- The name of the person with whom the claimant contracted,
- The amount claimed,
- The general nature and character of labor or materials furnished,
- The date of completion of claimant’s work, and
- A description of the property.
The formal notice can be served by first-class, registered, or certified mail on the property owner or the property owner’s agent. The formal notice can also be served by the sheriff or a private process server.
The claim must include:
- The name of the party claimant and whether the claimant is filing as contractor or subcontractor;
- The name and address of the property owner or reputed property owner;
- The date of completion of the claimant’s work;
- If filed by a subcontractor, the name of the person with whom the subcontractor contracted with and the dates upon which formal notice of intention to file a mechanic’s lien claim was given;
- If filed by a contractor under a contract or contracts for an agreed sum, an identification of the contract and a general statement of the kind and character of the labor or materials furnished;
- A detailed statement of the kind and character of the labor or materials furnished, or both, and the prices charged for each thereof;
- The amount or sum claimed to be due; and
- A description of the improvement and of the property claimed to be subject to the lien as may be reasonably necessary to identify them.
How Should The Mechanic’s Lien Claim Be Served?
All claimants must serve written notice of the filing of the mechanic’s lien claim within one month of filing. The notice must state the court term and number and the date of filing the mechanic’s claim and must be served by the sheriff in the county in which the property is located.
If notice cannot be served, then the sheriff can post the notice on a conspicuous, public part of the improvement. Since courts have not hesitated to dismiss a mechanic’s lien claim for failure to serve such notice within the mandated period of time, it is imperative to strictly comply with these service requirements.
Within 20 days after service of this notice upon the property owner, the claimant must file an affidavit of service or the acceptance of service in the prothonotary’s office of the county in which the property is located. This affidavit must state the date and method of service. Failure to comply with either requirement within the appropriate time period will invalidate the mechanic’s lien.
How Is A Mechanic’s Lien Claim Enforced?
To enforce a mechanics’ lien claim, a claimant must eventually obtain a judgment upon the filed mechanics’ lien claim.
To obtain a judgment upon a mechanics’ lien claim, the claimant must file a complaint to enforce the mechanic’s lien within 2 years from the date of filing unless the time is extended in writing by the property owner.
A verdict or judgment must be entered within 5 years from the date of filing of the mechanic’s lien claim. If not, the mechanic’s claim will be wholly lost.