5 Steps to Take to File a Mechanic’s Lien

Also known as a construction lien, a mechanic’s lien is an effective means of ensuring that contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and other professionals who work on a construction project get paid. If the owner fails or unreasonably refuses to pay for services or materials provided, the party who filed the lien can seek to enforce it, which could involve selling the property to cover the money owed.

Filing a mechanic’s lien in New York state can be complicated. There are special forms that need to be completed in a certain way and both served and filed within a particular time frame so that you protect your right to get paid. The six steps below present an overview of the process, along with an explanation of common issues that may arise.

Step 1: Confirm that you have the standing to file a mechanic’s lien.

For your work to be eligible for a lien, you must have furnished labor or materials to the project. In New York, a mechanic’s lien is only effective against the amount owed to the general contractor, so if you are a subcontractor or supplier, you must file before the general contractor is paid.

Step 2: Prepare the mechanic’s lien form.

The law is very specific about the contents and even appearance of a mechanic’s lien. New York Lien Law Section 9 provides guidance on the requirements for the “Contents of Notice of Lien”

Step 3: Serve a copy of the lien.

New York law requires all claimants to serve each party above them in the contracting hierarchy.

  • If you are a general contractor, you must serve the property owner.
  • Subcontractors must serve the property owner and the general contractor.
  • Subcontractor suppliers must serve the property owner, general contractor and subcontractor.

You have to serve your mechanic’s lien within five (5) days before filing or 30 days after you file the Notice of Lien. Proof of Service must be filed within 35 days after you file the lien. The timing is essential, meaning that an error can nullify your claim.

Step 4: File the lien with the county clerk.

Your mechanic’s lien has to be filed with the county clerk for the county where the project is located. (If it sits between two counties, file a copy of the lien in both.) The contents must describe the property in a manner specified by the county and be correctly formatted – if it doesn’t conform to certain margin requirements, the recorder will reject it.

Step 5: Take action before the lien expires.

In New York, a mechanic’s lien is effective for one year from the date the claim is filed. It is also one of the only states where you can do an additional filing to extend the lien, sometimes twice. Eventually you’ll need to either seek payment or foreclose on the lien if you want to realize its benefit.

Mechanic’s liens are valuable tools to help protect your rights and ensure that you get paid for all work or materials provided. However, navigating the complicated rules related to these liens can be a difficult. NYLiens LLC is committed to helping contractors, subcontractor and suppliers get paid for the work they’ve performed, so if you require assistance, contact us.

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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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