How to File a Mechanic's Lien in New York

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In the state of New York, a person can file a notice of mechanic’s lien against a real property owner for nonpayment of funds, work performed or materials furnished. Parties who can file a mechanic’s lien include contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, lessors of equipment, laborers, design professionals and landscape gardeners.

The lienor, the person owed money, should file a document containing the requisite information or form A365 with the office of the county clerk where the work was performed. A county may only accept a mechanic’s lien for improvement of private property. A mechanic’s lien for public property improvement must be filed with the agency with which the work was performed.

What a New York Mechanic's Lien Notice Contains

The notice of a mechanic’s lien should contain:

  • Name and residence of the lienor.
  • Name of the owner of the real property.
  • Name of party employing the lienor.
  • Nature of the labor performed and/or materials furnished.
  • Agreed price of the value of the labor and materials furnished.
  • Amount remaining unpaid to the lienor.
  • Time when the first item of work was performed and materials furnished.
  • Time when the last item of work was performed and materials furnished.
  • Location of the property subject to the lien.
  • Date that the lien was filed.
  • County in which the lien was filed.

How New York Lien Laws Work

The basic steps of filing a lien, in order, are:

  1. Complete the notice of the mechanic’s lien form. New York requires that this form be notarized at the time it is filed.
  2. Serve a copy of the notice of the mechanic’s lien on the owner of the property, the main contractor, and the hiring party, if that entity did not contract directly with the main contractor.
  3. File the notice of the mechanic’s lien with the county clerk at any point during the project or within eight months after finishing the project or last providing labor or supplies. If the project is a single-family dwelling, the lien must be filed within four months.
  4. File an affidavit of service of the copy of the notice of the lien to the proper parties. This should be filed with the county clerk within 35 days of filing notice of the lien.
  5. Determine whether the next step will be to foreclose upon the property, extend the deadline for payment or release the lien.

Filing Fees for Mechanic’s Liens

Filing fees vary within New York State. In Queens County and Kings County, the fee for filing a notice of mechanic’s lien is $30. In Erie County and Westchester County, the fee for filing a notice of mechanic’s lien is $15. Typically, the fee for an affidavit of service of notice of the lien is $5.

Priority of Lien Claims

A mechanic’s lien has priority over another conveyance, mortgage, judgment or other claim against the property that has not been recorded, docketed or filed at the time that the mechanic’s lien was filed.

A mechanic’s lien also has priority over advances made upon any mortgage or encumbrances after the mechanic’s lien was filed. Further, a mechanic’s lien has priority over the claim of a creditor who has not furnished materials or performed labor upon the property.

Duration of Liens

A mechanic’s lien lasts for one year after notice of the lien has been filed. A lienor may amend the lien for the purpose of reducing it within 60 days of filing if they also provide a 20-day notice of amendment to other lienors, mortgagees, and the owner, and no party has filed an action to enforce or cancel the lien.

A lien claimant may extend a mechanic’s lien for one more year by filing a written notice of extension with the county clerk, with the exception of liens on single-family dwellings.

The exception to the one-year rule for mechanic’s liens is if the party that is owed money initiates an action to foreclose the lien. The lienor must initiate the action before the lien expires. The lienor may also include other causes of action in the lawsuit, such as breach of contract and foreclosure on a bond.

Filing a Notice of Pendency

A lienor who files a foreclosure action must file a notice regarding the pendency of the action with the county clerk of the county in which they filed the notice of lien.

After a lien foreclosure action is commenced, and the notice of pendency is filed, the lien and notice of pendency are valid for three additional years. If the civil action is unduly delayed, the party owed money may need to file a motion to extend the notice of pendency.

Release of Mechanic's Lien

If a property owner pays the party owed money, the property owner will ask that party to file a mechanic’s lien release form. This form should provide the location of the property and the sum that the property owner paid the lienor. The form should confirm that the debt owed to the lienor is fully paid and satisfied.

The lienor should file this document with the county clerk’s office where they originally filed the notice of lien. One of the ways for the property owner to pay the lienor is to deposit the money with the county clerk in the county where the lien was filed. The property owner may also file a bond with that clerk of the county.

Public Improvement Lien

A party that works for, or provides material to, a contractor or subcontractor of a public improvement project for a public agency like a department of New York City should file the notice of lien with the proper city department. For the NYC Department of Finance, the party should file a lien for the amount the contractor owes. The City will limit payment to the contractor for 1 ½ times the amount owed.

The Department of Finance only accepts notice of public improvement liens for contracts registered with the NYC Comptroller’s Office and awarded by mayoral agencies. Other public entities, such as the School Construction Authority, have their own public improvement lien processes. A party owed money should file the lien notice before the project is completed or within 30 days of completion.