Q. What is a NY Construction/Mechanic’s lien?
A. The State of New York statutorily provides a person who supplies labor or materials for a construction project to claim a lien against the improved property for failure of payment. These statutes, known as the New York Lien Law, provides specific and detailed instructions on who can file a mechanic’s lien, when a mechanic’s lien must filed, and the process by which a mechanic’s lien is file and served. NY Lien Law allows for three different types of lien: New York private mechanic’s liens, which are filed on commercial or private projects, New York residential mechanic’s liens, which are filed on certain residential homes, and New York public mechanic’s liens, which are filed on government projects. Mechanic’s liens are our large part of the Construction-based legal services we provide to our clients. From Mechanic’s Lien Filings, Waiver of Liens, Release of Liens, Bonding, and establishing/enforcing Company Lien Policy to prevent and minimize headaches and losses from lien issues, we can guide you through the complicated world of the New York Lien Law.
Q. Who can file a lien in this State?
A. NY Lien Law states that “A contractor, subcontractor, laborer, materialman, landscape, gardener, nurseryman or person or corporation, selling, fruit or ornamental trees, roses, shrubbery, vines and small fruits, who performs labor or furnishes materials for the improvement of real property with the consent or at the request of the owner thereof, or of his agent, contractor or subcontractor, and any trust fund to which benefits and wage supplements are due or payable for the benefit of such laborers, shall have a lien for the principal and interest, of the value, or the agreed price, of such labor, including benefits and wage supplements due or payable for the benefit of any laborer, or materials upon the real property improved or to be improved and upon such improvement, from the time of filing a notice of such lien…” N.Y. Lien Law §3.
Q. How does filing a New York Mechanic’s Lien help me get my money?
A. The NY Mechanic’s Lien places an encumbrance on the property that makes it difficult to resell or refinance the property without first removing the lien. On a public project, the filing of a NY Mechanic’s Lien will freeze the fund of money that has been allocated for the public project, thus reducing or sometimes halting the flow of payments to the non-paying contractor until the lien is paid off or bonded off.
Q. How long does a party have to file a lien?
A. You must file a NY Mechanic’s Lien against a commercial property within eight (8) months of the last time that they provided labor and materials to the project. You must file a Mechanic’s Lien against a residential property within four (4) months of the last time that they provided labor and materials to the project. You must file a Mechanic’s Lien against a public project within thirty (30) days of the time that the project is accepted by the public entity.
Q. What kind of notice is required prior to filing a NY Mechanic’s Lien?
A. NY Lien Law states “Within five days before or thirty days after filing the notice of lien, the lienor shall serve a copy of such notice upon the owner,
if a natural person,
(a) by delivering the same to him personally, or if the owner cannot be found, to his agent or attorney, or
(b) by leaving it at his last known place of residence in the city or town in which the real property or some part thereof is situated, with a person of suitable age and discretion, or
(c) by registered or certified mail addressed to his last known place of residence, or
(d) if such owner has no such residence in such city or town, or cannot be found, and he has no agent or attorney, by affixing a copy thereof conspicuously on such property, between the hours of nine o’clock in the forenoon and four o’clock in the afternoon;
if the owner be a corporation, said service shall be made
(i) by delivering such copy to and leaving the same with the president, vice-president, secretary or clerk to the corporation, the cashier, treasurer or a director or managing agent thereof, personally, within the state, or
(ii) if such officer cannot be found within the state by affixing a copy thereof conspicuously on such property between the hours of nine o’clock in the forenoon and four o’clock in the afternoon, or
(iii) by registered or certified mail addressed to its last known place of business. Failure to file proof of such a service with the county clerk within thirty-five days after the notice of lien is filed shall terminate the notice as a lien.” N.Y. Lien Law §10.
Q. How long does my NY Mechanic’s Lien last?
A: A NY Mechanic’s Lien is valid for a period of one (1) year. Commercial liens may be extended once without a court order by filing an extension of lien before the original Notice of Mechanic’s Lien expires. Liens on residential and public projects cannot be extended without a Court order.
Q. How can I find out how the subcontractor came up with the dollar value presented in the filed lien?
A. If your sub-contractor filed a Mechanic’s Lien against a project you are working on and you do not know how the subcontractor came up with the dollar value presented in his lien, pursuant to Lien Law §38, you are permitted to demand that your subcontractor (the lienor) provide you with a verified statement itemizing the NY Mechanic’s Lien within five (5) days. Lien Law §38 has very particular “service” requirements.
If you have any questions regarding the NY Lien Law, or if you are in need of a comprehensive Company Lien Policy, don’t hesitate to contact us.
This document/post/article is not to be considered as legal advice. Content and information contained herein is subject to changes, modifications, and may contain inaccuracies or out-of-date information. As with any legal matter or other matters of importance, consultation with an attorney or professional is the best course of action.