What Is a Mechanic’s Lien and How Do I Remove One?

A mechanic’s lien is a legal claim against property made by people who worked on the property and did not get paid. Usually, mechanic’s liens apply to homes, land, and other real estate.

To remove a mechanic’s lien, you simply need to pay the person who worked on your property. Contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers can only file mechanic’s liens when they do not receive payment for the work they performed on a property.

Of course, legal issues are never really so simple – and mechanic’s liens are no exception.

Who Is Responsible for Paying Subcontractors and Suppliers?

For example, you can face a mechanic’s lien even if you were not the one who missed payment. If a contractor remodels your bathroom but fails to pay the supplier who provided the tiles or the subcontractor who helped install them, the supplier and subcontractors themselves can file mechanic’s liens against your house.

In this scenario, you would have to pay the contractor, subcontractor, and supplier, effectively paying for the work you received three times. Otherwise, you could lose your house simply because your contractor failed to pay their employees. Fortunately, the law allows other ways out of mechanic’s liens – many of which apply before someone even claims a lien against your property.

Avoiding Mechanic’s Liens

You may choose to pay with joint checks to help ensure everyone working on your property gets paid. By writing one check to both the contractor and the supplier, for instance, you can help make sure both workers cash the check and get paid together.

When drafting construction contracts, you can also include a lien waiver. This provision will relieve you from paying anyone who should be paid by the main contractor. In most states, you can only include a lien waiver if you have already paid your contractor.

One other option is paying each person who works on your property yourself. Many property owners do not like this process because it requires them to be involved with everyone who works on their home and know exactly what contractors are doing. In this model, you will pay the contractor less, so you can make sure the subcontractors and suppliers are being paid fairly. Many contractors do not wish to work under this model because they do not like being micromanaged and it can cut into their profits.

Can I Remove a Mechanic’s Lien Even If I Have Not Paid?

Yes. The easiest and most effective way to remove a mechanic’s lien on your property is to negotiate with the contractor and settle the lien. If you do not want to pay the contractor money you feel they don’t deserve, you can negotiate the conditions of payment. For example, you may not want to pay your contractor before they make important revisions to their existing work, so you can agree to pay their lien if they make the changes.

Most contractors would rather settle a lien for far less than they asked for than deal with litigation.

If you really do not want to pay your contractor, however, you can obtain a lien bond from an insurance company (this is usually the quickest way to resolve a lien) or file a lawsuit against the contractor.

Unless the contractor moves to collect or you have an urgent need to sell or refinance your home, you should fight a mechanic’s lien if you do not agree with it.

Whether you want to prevent mechanic’s liens or fight them after they are filed, our team at Enlow Law can help. We have more than 30 years of combined experience and we seek to resolve cases in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Don’t let an unresolved lien jeopardize your property. Instead, call us at (918) 212-5359 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.