How to Enforce a Lien

When you’re a contractor or subcontractor in New York and a property owner doesn’t pay your invoice after all work is complete, filing a mechanic’s lien is a collection measure that normally gets results. A clouded property title can cause so many complications for the owner that the payment issue is often resolved without further action on your part.

Remember, “often” isn’t the same as “always.” In some cases, your mechanic’s lien can be greeted with more silence and stronger refusals to pay, forcing you to send a Notice of Intent to Foreclose. This legal notice serves as a warning that if payment is not made, you will initiate a lawsuit.

Property owners who ignore a lien will frequently capitulate at this point because it’s clear you mean business and they want to avoid the high costs of litigation. If the owner you are dealing with isn’t fazed by the notice, the next step in collecting payment is to enforce, or foreclose on, the lien. This means that you force the sale of the property and the proceeds are used to satisfy your claim.

What Is the Lien Enforcement Process?

In New York, a mechanic’s lien is generally valid for one year after the date of filing unless you file an extension with the county court and/or obtain a court order.

When you are ready to enforce it, you are essentially filing a lawsuit, so the preliminary steps mirror those of any other lawsuit. Your New York mechanic’s lien attorney will draft the foreclosure suit, which must be served on all parties with an interest in the property, such as the:

  • Owner
  • General contractor (if you are a subcontractor or supplier)
  • Mortgage provider
  • Any other parties who hold mechanic’s liens on the property

After your foreclosure suit has been served, the matter will proceed like other lawsuits. The property owner and other involved parties respond to your claim, both sides exchange and reveal information during a process called discovery, and in some cases, certain motions may be filed. When litigation concludes, the judge will render a decision.

What if Your Claim is Successful?

If your foreclosure suit succeeds, the court may order the property in question to be sold to satisfy your claim. The sheriff generally arranges these auctions or sales, and the proceeds will be distributed in order of priority among all parties with an interest in the property, with the remaining balance being awarded to the owner.

Work a New York Mechanic’s Lien Provider

State law requires a mechanic’s lien to be filed, served, and foreclosed upon in an exact manner, with strict attention paid to deadlines. Claimants must also be authorized to do business in New York. When these requirements are not met, the resulting lien may be defective and therefore unenforceable.

To protect your right to payment, call NYLiens LLC at 718-444-LIEN. We are committed to helping contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers fight for the compensation they worked hard to earn and will use our familiarity with state lien law to give your claim the best chance for success. For more information, please 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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