5 Myths About Mechanic’s Liens

Mechanic’s liens are effective legal remedies in New York construction projects, but they are also commonly misunderstood, particularly regarding who can file them and what can be included in the lien. To ensure that you understand your rights in the event of nonpayment for your labor or supplies, we’ve listed 5 persistent myths about mechanic’s liens and the truth behind each one.

  1. Anyone who worked on a construction project can file a lien.

While mechanic’s lien protection is quite broad in New York, extending to landscape gardeners and nurserymen in addition to general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers, it doesn’t bestow lien rights on everyone involved in a construction project.

The main exceptions are suppliers to suppliers and claimants that are not licensed to perform the work (if licensing is required) or authorized to do business in New York. Their inability to file a mechanic’s lien can affect other parties: for example, if a general contractor lacks the license to work on a particular project, their subcontractors are also prohibited from filing a lien against the property.

  1. Attorney’s fees and collection costs may be included in a lien.

Unless the property owner agrees to cover costs like change orders and extra charges, indirect or consequential damages cannot be included in a New York mechanic’s lien. Claims are generally limited to the unpaid balance of any labor, supplies, and equipment provided to the project.

  1. You can sign a contract waiving your right to file a lien.

New York prohibits contractors and suppliers from waiving their lien rights in a contract. If you are “required” to waive these rights before you provide labor and materials, state law presumes that any such waivers are invalid, against public policy, and therefore unenforceable.

  1. Mechanic’s liens cannot be extended.

Although New York CLS Lien Sec. 17 states that mechanic’s liens generally expire one year after filing, New York is one state that allows lien extensions. For all properties except single-family dwellings, you must file the extension with the county clerk in which the lien was originally recorded. Extensions are granted on liens on single-family homes only via court order.

  1. You don’t need to send notice that a lien was recorded.

False. Once the lien is recorded, a copy must be served on the property owner. If you cannot file proof of service with the county clerk within 35 days after filing the lien, your claim is unenforceable. Lien claimants who are not general contractors should also serve a copy of the claim on the general contractor.

These are only a few examples of misconceptions regarding liens and lien rights in New York. All of them have the potential to damage your claim, so if you need to file a mechanic’s lien to protect your right to payment, NYLiens LLC has the qualifications and experience to ensure that the process is completed correctly. Please contact us for a consultation and evaluation of your needs.

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For over a decade, NYLiens LLC has prepared and filed Notice of Mechanic’s Lien documents for all types of contractors and suppliers throughout New York State.

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