Mechanics Lien Definition

By virtue of express statutes in most states, mechanics and material men or persons who furnish materials for the erection of houses or other buildings, are entitled to a lien or preference in the payment of debts out of the houses and buildings so erected and to the land, to a greater or lessor extent, on which they are erected. It is used to enforce payment in order to clear the title to the property, because property with a lien on it cannot be easily sold until the lien is satisfied (paid off).

In some states, a claim must be filed in the office of the clerk of the court or a suit brought within a limited time. On the sale of the building these liens are to be paid pro rata. In some states no lien is created unless the work done or the goods furnished amount to a certain specified sum, while in others there is no limit to the amount. In general, none but the original contractors can claim under the law; however, sometimes sub-contractors have the same right. Local law should be consulted for requirements in your area.

The following is an example of a state statute dealing with mechanics liens:

§ 1502. Filing and notice of filing of claim.

(a) Perfection of Lien. To perfect a lien, every claimant must:

  1. file a claim with the prothonotary as provided by this act within four (4) months after the completion of his work; and
  2. serve written notice of such filing upon the owner within one (1) month after filing, giving the court term and number and date of filing of the claim. An affidavit of service of notice, or the acceptance of service, shall be filed within twenty (20) days after service setting forth the date and manner of service. Failure to serve such notice or to file the affidavit or acceptance of service within the times specified shall be sufficient ground for striking off the claim.

(b) Venue; Property in More Than One County. Where the improvement is located in more than one county, the claim may be filed in any one county, the claim may be filed in any one or more of said counties, but shall be effective only as to the part of the property in the county in which it has been filed.

(c) Manner of Service. Service of the notice of filing of claim shall be made by an adult in the same manner as a writ of summons in assumpsit, or if service cannot be so made then by posting upon a conspicuous public part of the improvement. Relevant legal forms include:

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