Summary of Mechanics and Materialmen’s Liens

Liens by Contractors

  • Contractors are those that enter into a contract with the landowner.
  • The contractor is required to perfect its lien by filing a lien statement within four months after the date upon which material was last furnished or labor last performed under the contract. The statement is to be filed in the office of the county clerk of the county in which the land is situated.
  • A pre-lien notice is required for the enforcement of a lien affecting property “presently occupied by an owner.”

Liens by Sub Contractors

  • A subcontractor is one that is in the employ of the contractor for the erection, alteration or repair of any building, improvement or structure.
  • A subcontractor obtains its lien rights through the general contractor, who by definition has a contract with the landowner, and therefore the subcontractor’s lien applies to both the real property and improvements.
  • A lien asserted under this provision is perfected by filing a lien statement with the county clerk within 90 days after the date upon which material or equipment was last furnished or labor last performed under the claimant’s subcontract.
  • A pre-lien notice is required for all persons “other than an original contractor.” The pre-lien notice must be filed prior to the filing of the lien statement, but no later than 75 days after the date of supply of material, services, labor or equipment in which the claimant is entitled to lien rights.
  • A pre-lien notice is not required for claims that relates to a residential project or whose aggregate claim is less than $2,500.

Liens by Materialmen

  • A materialmen (or supplier) furnishes material rather than labor. If one combines labor with the furnishing of material, he is a contractor or subcontractor as opposed to a materialmen.

Liens by Sub-subcontractors and subcontractor’s suppliers

  • Sub-subcontractors have a lien from the same time, in the same manner, and to the same extent as the original contractor, for the amount due him.” In addition, any person who supplies labor, materials or equipment to “such subcontractor” is entitled to a lien upon the land and/or improvements “for the same time, in the same manner and to the same extent as the subcontractor.”
  • Sub-subcontractors must file a lien statement with the county clerk within 90 days after the date upon which material or equipment was last furnished or labor last performed under the claimant’s subcontract.

Priority

  • Most often, questions of priority exist between a mortgage lien and a mechanic’s lien.
  • When a general contract exists and the construction project commences prior to the filing of the mortgage lien, the mortgagees’ rights are inferior to the mechanic’s liens.
  • If the mortgage lien is filed before construction commences, it is superior to the construction liens filed thereafter.
  • Subcontractors, sub-subcontractors and their suppliers enjoy the same priority status as the general contractor.

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