mechanic's liensMechanic’s liens (otherwise known as “construction liens”) can be filed by general contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, and any other parties who have been involved in a construction or development project and have not been paid by the owner. This can be an effective enforcement mechanism to compel the property owner to resolve their unpaid debts when there is a payment dispute.

Mechanic’s liens are complicated legal actions, and they must be done in accordance with all state laws. Otherwise, an unpaid party may lose their right to collect their debt from the property owner. If you are a contractor, subcontractor, project owner, or any other party that is involved in a construction project, and you need to file, enforce, or defend against a construction lien, you need an experienced attorney in your corner to advocate forcefully for your legal rights and interests.

At the Law Offices of Matthew S. Evans, III, we have several decades of combined experience in real estate and construction law. Our practice is focused almost exclusively on these two areas of the law, and we have in-depth knowledge of the complexities involved with these practice areas, and how the governing statutes are applied on a daily basis throughout the Maryland courts.

We represent general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, manufacturers, and all other parties that work in or are associated with the construction industry. We also represent individual property owners. When there is a dispute over payment for materials and labor on a construction project, we work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue to most effectively resolve the dispute.

If it becomes necessary to file a mechanic’s lien, we provide skilled legal guidance throughout the process to help ensure a favorable outcome for our clients. When a construction lien has been improperly filed on a property owner (such as when a contractor is trying to collect money for work that was not completed), we work hand in hand with the owner to aggressively challenge the lien.

Maryland Mechanic’s Lien Laws

The state of Maryland provides broad protection for parties involved in a construction project to file a mechanic’s lien. In addition to general contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers, this may also include engineers, architects, surveyors, and certified interior designers. 

Maryland has certain requirements for filing a mechanic’s lien. A lien can be filed for a new construction project, and for a repair, remodel, or rebuilding project as long as it improves the property by at least 15% of its present value. If the lien claimant is a corporation, it must be registered in the state of Maryland.

To establish a lien, you must file it in the county in which the property it will be attached to is located. Liens must be filed within 180 days of the date in which labor or materials was last furnished to the project.

General contractors are not required to provide a notice of the lien to the property owner. However, subcontractors and other parties who are not in direct contact with the property owner are required to provide a preliminary notice, and it must be sent within 120 days from the date that party last provided materials and labor for the project.

If the project involved a single-family residential property, the notice must be sent before the property owner pays the general contractor in full. There are also other specific limitations for liens filed on owner-occupied single resident properties. As always, speak with your attorney about any requirements that pertain to your specific situation.

Enforcement of a Mechanic’s Lien

Filing a construction lien is just the first step in collecting an unpaid debt for materials and/or labor from a construction or development project. A petition to enforce the lien must also be filed, and the deadline for filing an enforcement petition is one year from the date that the initial mechanic’s lien was filed. If this deadline is missed, the claimant may lose the ability to enforce the lien, even if the lien is established by the court. To help prevent this from happening, a petition to establish the lien and a petition to enforce the lien are often combined into one court filing.

What Can be Collected through a Mechanic’s Lien?

Damages that may be collected through a construction lien may include payment for:

  • Material and equipment supplied to the project that is unpaid;
  • Unpaid labor;
  • Interest on the amount owed (if provided for in the construction contract).

The total amount that can be sought through a mechanic’s lien cannot exceed the cap that is specified in the contract. In general, collection costs, attorney fees, and other costs cannot be included in the lien. However, a court may award attorney fees to a claimant in a successful action.

It is important to note that a construction lien is a claim against the property for which there is unpaid labor or materials, rather than against the property owner. This is different from a judgment against a specific person in that it does not allow the claimant to go after the owner’s bank accounts, wages, or any other personal property to collect the debt. The lien is against a specific property, and the property owner will be forced to satisfy the lien when they try to sell or refinance it.

A party that brings a mechanic’s lien claim against a property may decide to bring a simultaneous breach of contract action against the owner if it makes sense to do so. If successful, this could produce a court judgment, with would allow the plaintiff to go after other personal property to satisfy the debt.

Speak with a Skilled Annapolis, MD Mechanic’s Lien Lawyer

Construction liens are complicated and have a lot of technical requirements that must be fulfilled in order to be done correctly. At the Law Office of Matthew S. Evans, III, we have extensive experience with mechanic’s liens and all other construction and real estate-related legal matters in Maryland, and we provide skilled and personalized guidance and representation for each client we serve. Contact our office today at (410) 431-2599 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.  You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Annapolis office in person at your convenience.

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