Mechanic’s Lien Cases

Charlottesville Mechanic’s Lien Attorneys

Have you performed work and honored your end of a deal only to find yourself empty handed with no promise of payment?  Have you discovered that your property, or property that you wish to purchase, is subject to a mechanic’s lien?  If you find yourself in the midst of one of these scenarios, you are most likely frustrated.  But the Charlottesville Mechanic’s Lien attorneys at MartinWren, P.C. can help sort out these issues, develop a strategy, and remedy the situation.

Filing A Mechanic’s Lien

If you are a laborer, supplier, architect, craftsman, or mechanic and have improved or delivered materials to a property (either as an employee of the owner or as a subcontractor to a general contractor working on the property), you can use a mechanic’s lien to ensure you are paid for your services regardless of the status of the property.

A mechanic’s lien is a security interest in the title of private property for the benefit of those who have supplied labor or materials that improve the property. Think of a mechanic’s lien as a “hold” placed upon the property that is recorded with the clerk’s office of the jurisdiction where the property is located.   It indicates that payment is owed for services performed or materials provided. Despite its name, a mechanic’s lien is not limited to mechanics, but can also be known as a construction lien, laborer’s lien, artisan’s lien, supplier’s lien, garageman’s lien, materialman’s lien, and design professional’s lien.

Filing a mechanic’s lien provides workers with two main benefits.  First, because the lien attaches to the real property upon which the work occurred or materials were supplied, lienholders have the right to foreclose on the property in an attempt to satisfy the lien.  Second, lienholders are given priority over other creditors who may be seeking payment from the property owner, including banks holding a mortgage and other lienholders.

Typically, contractors file their own memorandum of mechanic’s liens without consulting an attorney.  The concern, however, is that the Virginia mechanic’s lien statutes contain many important and intricate conditions and terms that must be followed for the mechanic’s lien to be valid.  The Supreme Court of Virginia explained that, “where there are questions concerning the existence and perfection of such a lien, the mechanic’s lien statutes will be strictly construed.”  Woodington Electric, Inc. v. Lincoln Savings & Loan Assocs., 238 Va. 623, 630 (1989).  In plain language, this means that even slight flaws with the memorandum of mechanic’s lien may invalidate the entire lien.

It is wise for a contractor to consult with a mechanic’s lien attorney at the first sign that payment in full may not be forthcoming.  Contact the experienced property lien attorneys at MartinWren, P.C. to ensure your mechanic’s lien is properly and timely filed so you receive the payment you are owed.

Property Subject To A Mechanic’s Lien

Similarly, if you discover that your property, or property that you are considering purchasing, is subject to a mechanic’s lien, it is vital that you understand what that means for the property and how the lien can be removed or satisfied.

It is in your best interests to remove a mechanic’s lien from your property, as a lien can result in a number of problems:

  1. Potential foreclosure if the lien is not satisfied;
  2. Double payment for the same job if the homeowner has already paid the general contractor but is then obligated to pay the subcontractors or employees;
  3. A recorded lien on the property title which can affect the owner’s ability to refinance or sell the property.

Legally, the homeowner is ultimately responsible for payment – even if they have already paid the contractor or subcontractors.  For that reason, property owners must ensure that their general contractors have paid their employees and subcontractors to avoid a mechanic’s lien.  Though there are stiff penalties for general contractors who fail to pay their subcontractors, the best way to deal with this is to avoid the situation altogether and hire only licensed and reputable general contractors and stay in close communication with the general contractor throughout the construction project.

Enforcing A Mechanic’s Lien

Because mechanic’s liens can be enforced only through timely litigation, the enforcement process can be expensive and complicated.  With that in mind, home and project owners should take adequate time to enter into well-drafted contracts, use proper office business procedures, and consult with an attorney experienced with filing and enforcing mechanic’s liens.  And, even if the owner has not followed these steps and forfeited his or her right to enforce a mechanic’s lien, there may nevertheless be other remedies available, such as a breach of contract suit.

Although the concept of a mechanic’s lien is pretty straightforward, filing or challenging a mechanic’s lien can be complicated.  Consulting with an experienced Virginia mechanic’s lien attorney at MartinWren, P.C. can make this process swift and smooth.  Call the Virginia mechanic’s lien attorneys at MartinWren, P.C. at 434-817-3100, and ask for John B. Simpson to help you determine the best course of action to pursue.

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We serve clients throughout Virginia — from Charlottesville and Central Virginia to metropolitan Richmond; Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley to Roanoke; and the cities of Hampton Roads to the Northern Virginia cities of  Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington.

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