So…who can file a mechanic’s lien in Pennsylvania? Typically a contractor, subcontractor, and anyone providing materials or services (like an architect or plumbing supplier) can file a lien against a property to ensure they get paid.
In order to file a mechanic’s lien, the claim must be in excess of $500. If you are involving a lawyer for a claim less than $500, we should re-evaluate how you are spending your money…just kidding.
But seriously! Do NOT throw good money after bad.
Before you start figuring out who can and who cannot file a mechanic’s lien, make sure you are actually looking to file a mechanic’s lien, not just obtain a judgement, we discuss the difference between a mechanic’s lien and a judgment in a previous blog post and video. Also, Indeed does a good job further detailing the differences between contractors and subcontractors which applies to more than just the realm of mechanic’s liens.
A contractor can typically file a lien WITHOUT providing any formal notice to the owner.
In a previous video, we included a few key terms and definitions that are important to be aware of prior to filing a mechanic’s lien – specifically, we discuss the definition of the terms owner, contractor, subcontractor and substantial completion of work. If you missed that one, start there first.
There is no notice period required before filing a mechanic’s lien by a contractor because, as a a contractor, you likely entered into an agreement directly with the owner of the property. Therefore, if the contractor performed work on the property but has not been paid, the owner will be aware because they are the ones refusing to pay.
A subcontractor enters into an a contract with a contractor rather than the owner of the property. In fact, it is possible that the owner of the property doesn’t even know that a subcontractor has been hired.
Since the subcontractor’s agreement is not directly with the owner, a subcontractor is obligated to provide 30 days notice to both the contractor and the owner of the property of their intent to file a mechanic’s lien. Providing this kind of notice gives the owner, who may not know that the work was sub-contracted out, the chance to determine whether they paid the contractor for the work.
If the owner paid the contractor, but the contractor has not paid the subcontractor, the owner will often push the contractor to pay. However, if the owner has not paid the contractor, that is exactly why we have mechanic’s liens–to make sure they do.
That being said, a subcontractor may run the risk of finding out that the owner actually paid the contractor who then did not pay the subcontractor the money that they are owed. If that is the case, the subcontractor should be going after the contractor for breach of contract rather than filing a lien on the property because the work was paid for by the owner. Thus, the subcontractor’s gripe is with the contractor–not the owner.
The attorneys at Kaminsky Law are licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. However, we work in the the Philadelphia area, including Bucks County, Montgomery County, Chester County, and Delaware County, aggressively representing small business clients and working to get them results in in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
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Kaminsky Law is a small business-oriented litigation Law firm licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey with cost-effective approach to lawsuits, settlements, and dispute resolution.