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A mechanic’s lien is a leverage tool for contractors to get paid for their work. The word “lien” comes from the same term in French, meaning “bond” or “knot,” and references a person’s tie to an asset because of a debt owed to them. It protects contractors who improve, repair, or maintain real property and who, following the job’s completion, do not receive payment from the property owner.

 

A lien is like a mortgage

A helpful way to think about mechanic’s liens is to recognize how they function very similarly to mortages. For a financial institution, a mortgage is a security tool that protects the bank’s investment in the home. If a homeowner fails to make payments to the bank, the bank can foreclose on the property. This ability protects the bank from a loss on their investment and gives banks the power to act when homeowners do not make good on their responsibility to pay their mortgages.

In the same way, mechanic’s liens protect contractors who make an investment in residential or commercial property through their time and labor. If an owner fails to pay contractors for their labor, the contractor can file a mechanic’s lien. The lien is basically a notification that the contractor is claiming entitlement to the asset in question because of the unpaid debt.

Filing mechanic's liens and commencing a lawsuit

Filing a mechanic’s lien can be a complex process because of the timelines that must be strictly followed in order for a claim to be ultimately approved by the court. What’s more, the task of managing a case once a lawsuit has been commenced can be arduous and really requires an in-depth understanding of mechanic’s lien law to be sucessfull.  For instance, in order for a mechanic’s lien claim to be valid, a contractor must show that it provided the owner with appropriate pre-lien notice, that the work it provided actually benefited the property, and that the mechanic's lien statement was correctly served and filed.

The amount of time it takes for a mechanic’s lien claim to be resolved depends on the complexity of the case. The strength of the defenses mounted and the efficiency of legal counsel are also important factors. Typically, courts strive to have cases resolved within one year from the date of the filing of the lawsuit. 

Don't go it alone!

It is not advisable to either enforce or defend a mechanic’s lien claim without the assistance of an experienced attorney. If you’re a property owner who’s been served with a mechanic’s lien or a contractor considering enforcing one, it is best to contact an attorney as soon as possible. At FSSK, we have considerable experience smoothly navigating the mechanic’s lien process from start to finish. Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation. 

 

This website features educational information based on general legal principles in Minnesota.  Specific legal advice is contingent upon the unique facts of each case.  Therefore, you should not rely only on this information for your particular legal issue.  Contact an attorney to obtain advice specific to your legal situation.  Read our full disclaimer.

Informational Articles Disclaimer

This website features educational information based on general legal principles in Minnesota.  Specific legal advice is contingent upon the unique facts of each case.  Therefore, you should not rely only on this information for your particular legal issue.  Contact an attorney to obtain advice specific to your legal situation.  Read our full disclaimer.

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