A contractor filing a lien should be taken seriously
If a contractor ever puts a lien on your home because he claims you owe him money, don’t panic. But don’t ignore it.
Legally, they’re called “mechanic’s liens.??? It’s simply a way for someone who does work on a piece of property to know that he or she can get paid.
Let’s say that a contractor does $10,000 worth of work remodeling your kitchen. If you don’t pay, the contractor can file a lien against your home. If the lien is legitimate and never challenged, the home can be forced into foreclosure. It’s rare that it goes that far, but it has happened. The best way to avoid liens is to pay your bills.
There are, however, times when you may feel that not all of the work was done properly. If you don’t pay the entire bill, the contractor might threaten you with a lien. The first thing you must understand is who can file a lien against you. If the job requires a licensed contractor, the person filing the lien must have a license.
If it involves your home, only the people who signed the contract can file against you. That means the contractor can file a lien against you, but his employees cannot. This protects you in case you pay your bill but the kitchen remodeling company doesn’t pay the plumber or the electrician.
The lien process is not one-sided. You can defend yourself, and a judge can remove a lien. Filing a lien is also a complicated process that must be done in precisely the correct way in exactly the right period of time. There are harsh penalties for filing a fraudulent lien, starting with fines of $5,000 and up. If a contractor files against you, take it very seriously. Pay the bill or contact a lawyer to fight it. Whatever you decide to do, don’t ignore it.