Mechanic’s Liens Help Collect Debt

A plumbing supplier’s customer slowly turns off the payment tap and morphs into a defiant deadbeat. Knowing going legal is the best solution for a clogged payment pipeline, the supplier calls me.

The plumbing supplier does not have a formal written contract. Deadbeats usually think that without a written contract, creditors may not be able to use the Mechanic’s Lien Law to collect their money. However, in 1997 the law changed to modernize its definitions and requirements. Based on the broader definitions, the email correspondence between my client and its deadbeat customer provided sufficient evidence of a written offer and acceptance.

After review of the plumbing supplier’s file, I prepare the documents necessary for a mechanic’s lien: A Notice of Contract and a Statement of Account. After the supplier signs the paperwork, I record the mechanic’s lien at the Registry of Deeds. Although the owner of the property generally is not personally liable for its contractor’s debts, the owner’s property is liable. Accordingly, as required by the lien statute, I give actual written notice to the property owner to alert them to monies owed to my client. Strict conformity to Mechanic’s Lien Law is paramount for a valid lien.

After sending written notice to the property owner, I don’t wait to see if the owner tells me whether he owes any money to the deadbeat customer; I immediately file suit and seek ex parte (without notice to the other parties) to attach the deadbeat’s bank accounts and real estate. Attachments keep deadbeats from further hiding money and other assets from creditors, and I seek them regularly. Within two weeks of filing, feeling the pressure from the property owner, the defiant deadbeat changes its tune and pays my client its full principal and even some of its attorney fees.

 

 

 

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