How Do I Deal with a Mechanic’s Lien?

You do all the necessary prep work to get your property ready to sell. From a deep cleaning, to making all those repairs you’ve ignored in the past, to brushing-on a fresh coat of paint, then staging it for the best ebb-and-flow, you’ve put a lot of time and effort to get it in show-ready condition.

On top of that, you’ve found the right listing price and know that’s the case because you’ve got an offer on your home. Now, things are moving toward you moving out and on to your new home. It’s a stressful, yet exciting time and you’re really looking forward to a new chapter in your life. Everything seems to be going according to plan.

Out of nowhere, you get a phone call and it shocks you with some very surprising and unpleasant news. The title search has uncovered a lien against your property and that means the sale has to be postponed. You feel confused and angry, what’s more, you’re now concerned the buyer will back out.

The Law Regarding a Mechanic’s Lien

In the state of Florida, a construction lien is available only for certain entities or professional individuals to file. There are people and businesses who have a legal right to file a property lien. For instance, contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, equipment rental companies, laborers and licensed professionals. All have legal standing to file a lien.

“Generally speaking, contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, equipment rental companies, laborers and professionals have lien rights in Florida. Florida does not require that you have a written contract to file a mechanics lien, so contracts can be oral, written, express or implied.” —The Lien and Credit Journal

However, take close notice of the last one on the list; that’s right, no license, no power to file a lien. In addition, others who do not have legal rights to file a lien are: sub-subcontractors, supplier to suppliers, suppliers to subcontractors, and maintenance workers.

So, if the lien was filed by an unlicensed person or entity, it isn’t legally enforceable. What’s more, the lienor, or the lien holder, must file a lawsuit to exercise their rights within one year. It can be extended, but most lienors do not take the necessary action.

Removing a Construction Lien Filed Against a Property

To get rid of this encumbrance, you’ll have to take action, and quickly to save the deal. First and foremost, find out what individual or what business filed the claim against your property. If it’s not on the list of those legally able to file such a claim, then that’s your way out. However, if it is legitimate on its face, then exercise these options:

  • Read the document carefully. If the validity of the claim is untrue, then you have the right to challenge it. You might want to get the advice of legal professional to proceed and pose the proper challenges to the claim. It will be worth the price of hiring an attorney in order to facilitate the sale of your home.
  • Should there be no real dispute, try to settle the matter. If you know the claim is a legitimate one, then, it’s worth your while to try and work out an arrangement with the contractor in exchange for a withdrawal of the lien. The unpleasant truth is, this won’t go away on its own.
  • Pay the full amount sought. Should there be no legal deficiency or the contractor will not agree to settle it for less than the amount of the claim, then bite the bullet and pay the full amount.