Mechanics Lien Claims
Design professionals, contractors and suppliers who provide work or services for private construction projects sometimes run into difficulty obtaining payment for the work or services that they performed. The reasons for this difficulty may be as simple as the owner’s lack of available funding for the project, the owner’s failure to pay the contractor, or the contractor’s failure to pay his subcontractors or suppliers.
Although these claimants may file a breach of contract action to recover monetary damages, those remedies are typically limited to the party with whom that claimant is in privity, or has a direct contract. Depending on the nature of construction work or services provided, however, the claimant may be able to bypass the privity requirement and seek an alternate remedy, in the form of a mechanics’ lien, against the property owner.
A mechanic’s lien is an in rem action that a claimant, who performed certain improvements to an owner’s land, can use to secure the money it is owed for performing those improvements. For example, mechanics’ liens are available for:
- the construction, alteration, or improvement of a building to the extent of 15% of its value,
- services performed by design professionals and land surveyors,
- services performed by certified interior designers that pertain to interior construction,
- the leasing of equipment,
- the drilling and installation of wells,
- the construction or installation of a swimming pool or fencing, and
- landscaping services.
Other lienable services include the installation of streets, waterlines, drains and sewers in a subdivision and the erection, construction or repair of machines, wharves or bridges.
Mechanics’ lien law in Maryland is primarily a creature of statute and there are detailed laws that set forth:
- the improvements eligible for a mechanics’ lien,
- the nature and extent of the property subject to the lien,
- the notice requirements (if any) which a claimant must satisfy prior to asserting a lien,
- the requirements for filing the lien, and
- the procedure for filing and perfecting the lien.
Further, the mechanics’ lien laws in Maryland are different than the mechanics lien laws of most other states. In most other states, a claimant may obtain a lien upon an owner’s land immediately upon filing a lien notice and/or other lien paperwork with the land records office or clerk of the court where the property is located. In Maryland, however, a claimant cannot obtain a mechanics lien in Maryland until the circuit court, at a minimum, signs an order imposing an interlocutory lien against the property.
A detailed understanding each of these issues is crucial to the successful imposition of a mechanics’ lien and recovery of monies due and owing to a claimant or, alternatively, the successful defense of a mechanics’ lien action against a property owner.
The attorneys at Goldberg & Banks have considerable experience both representing mechanics’ lien claimants and defending against mechanics’ lien allegations.
If you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss a mechanics lien issue, please call (410) 580-9530.