A mechanic's lien is placed on property, usually a home or a vehicle, because of an unpaid bill or service. For instance, if you hire a painter to paint the interior of your home but fail to pay him, he can legally place a lien on your home until you do. A lien prevents you from being able to sell the home without paying him. The life of a lien varies by state, with some lasting as long as six years and more. There are a few things that you can do to get rid of such a lien.
Pay for the services you receive. Nothing stops a mechanic's lien like simply paying the bill. Matters become more complicated when you have paid the bill and the contractor dishonestly applies for a lien anyway. Because of this, always get a signed receipt showing you have paid your bill in full.
Make arrangements with the contractor. A contractor must file a notice, meaning that you will be mailed a copy of his intent to place a lien on your property, before he can pursue the actual lien. As soon as you receive it, contact the contractor to discuss your options.
Get payment arrangements or settlements in writing, signed by both of you. This prevents the contractor from pursuing the lien, or getting one after you've complied with the arrangements.
Get a signed affidavit from a contractor declaring all of his subcontractors have been paid before you pay the final bill. If you've hired a contractor to work on your house, and he in turn hires subcontractors to do some of the work but then fails to pay them, those subcontractors can place a lien against your home. Protect yourself and your home by making sure each subcontractor is paid.
Get the lien holder to file a Release of Lien to drop the motion against you once your dispute has been settled. If he will not, you can petition the court that issued the lien directly to drop it. Provide your signed evidence that the matter has already been cleared.
Seek the help of an attorney if the matter is more complicated.
- Get paper copies of estimates and bills.
- Get receipts for your payments.
- Always get the names of subcontractors working for your contractor.
- Get exact estimates for materials.
- Write separate checks to your contractor that includes the name of the material provider. For example, if the contractor needs to buy $1,000 worth of lumber from the lumber yard, make out the check to the contractor and the lumber yard.
- construction,contractor,foreman image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com