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Key Differences Between M.G.L. Chapter 254 Sections 2 & 4

by | Jul 2, 2019 | Experienced Attorney

The instrument of mechanic’s liens is a statutory provision recognized and discussed in the Massachusetts Legislature General Laws’ (M.G.L.) chapter 254. The instrument itself is a legal petition that allows contractors, subcontractors, workers, and other service providers and materials suppliers – including design professionals (i.e. architects, engineers, surveyors, and licensed site professionals) who take part in construction, redevelopment, or renovation of a real estate property.It remains valid for labor or materials supplied during any particular stage – or combination of stages – of the project.

As these two sections of C.254 of the M.G.L. make for the governing law for this instrument, understanding them, and their key differences, is critically important for individuals and organizations working in the state’s construction sector. If you are a business owner, general contractor, or subcontractor who gets to work on real property projects, you should be familiar with these basic distinctions that we discuss in sufficient detail in the following paragraphs of this blog post.

Benefits of Understanding Massachusetts Mechanic’s Liens

Before we can talk about the differences between the two distinct sections of C.254 of the M.G.L. we would like to shed some light on why you should be interested in receiving this information.This is to particularly highlight the fact that there are a number of benefits to understanding what Massachusetts mechanic’s liens are all about. A few of these benefits are listed below for your consideration:

  • Knowledge of Massachusetts mechanic’s liens allows you to better understand your legal allowances for effective pursuit of due compensations.
  • Familiarity with the legal requisites of a mechanic’s lien allows you to provide your lawyer the necessary information more efficiently when preparing for your court action.
  • The information allows you to be more prudent with your business practices – particularly about making sales and services agreements in writing so you can have sufficient evidence in writing to prove your debt.
  • It also allows you to reduce your business risks and pursue profitable projects with greater confidence and better preparation.

For more information about how pursuing mechanic’s liens in Massachusetts, please click here.

Major Distinctions Between Sections 2 & 4 of the M.G.L. C.254

Sections 2 and 4 of the M.G.L. C.254 provide the necessary definitions, descriptions, and regulations that govern all matters related to mechanic’s liens in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Therefore, when we talk about understanding Massachusetts mechanic’s liens, it fundamentally includes getting familiar with the highlights of these two sections.

As the two sections combine to provide the guidelines that are followed during any mechanic’s lien action in the courts of Massachusetts, there are frequent similarities between the two. However, there are also a number of overt and subtle distinctions that your mechanic’s liens lawyer in Massachusetts must know rigorously. Of course, your familiarity with these distinctions can also help you during preparation of your mechanic’s lien action in Massachusetts, since it will allow you to provide your lawyer useful evidence about your contract.

Following are the two major differences between sections 2 and 4 of the M.G.L. C.254:

Distinction Between Nature of Work

The most obvious – and significant – distinction between sections 2 and 4 of the M.G.L. C.254 is the fact that the former governs mechanic’s liens for general contractors while the latter dictates how a mechanic lien can be pursued by a sub-contractor (and sub sub-contractors).

This requires a fundamental distinction between the two categories of labor. So, let’s devise a basic definition for contractors and sub-contractors each based on the two sections of the M.G.L. C.254 under consideration.

According to Massachusetts mechanic’s liens law, a general contractor is a professional individual or organization that possess a license to provide comprehensive construction, redevelopment, and/or repairs project management services for real property. This party gets the central contract of services for the project and signs the contract directly with the real property’s owners/managers.

Similarly, a sub-contractor (as well as a sub sub-contractor) is a party that undertakes its contract of services from the general contractor running the project. Sub-contractors possess specific expertise in various areas of the process of construction, redevelopment, repairs and renovation of real property.

A sub-contractor could be an individual service provider, such as a landscape artist or a plumber, or a business team recognized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a business organization.

In short, a sub-contractor works for the general contractor while the general contractor manages the project on real property under consideration and is in direct employ of the property owners.

This means that any of your mechanic’s liens in Massachusetts will be prepared in line with the nature of your contract in the project under review and according to the respective section of the M.G.L. C.254.

Notice of Contract & Notice of Identification

When filing a mechanic’s lien, you will also need to submit a Notice of Contract and Notice of Identification according to the requirements listed in sections 2 and 4 of the M.G.L. C.254 for contractors and sub-contractors respectively.

If you are a general contractor, you will follow section 2 of the chapter 254 and provide a subtly distinct notice of contract from that of a sub-contractor (Which will follow section 4 of the chapter). The notice of contract will be the same for both, except, as a general contractor, the notice of contract form does not usually contain any contractual numbers because presumably the owner knows what they had agreed to pay. Whereas in the case of a sub-contractor, the owner generally does not know how much the sub-contractor is expecting to be paid.

Additionally, if you are filing your lien as a sub sub-contractor, you will need to submit a Notice of Identification to at least the general contractor as a means of introducing your involvement in their project and the scope of work according to your contract with one of their sub-contractors. There is a lime element for doing so. Even if you do not submit a notice of identification, there is still a good argument for submitting a Section 4 Notice of Contract anyway to secure your rights, if there are any monies then due or to become due to the sub-contractor from the general contractor.

For more information about effective application of mechanic’s liens in Massachusetts, please click here.

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Our continued success in aggressively pursuing mechanic’s lien cases in Massachusetts as well as our legal services for debt collection have earned the highest rating from Martindale-Hubbell, a neutral peer review and rating agency recognized nationwide.

Contact us for any further information regarding whether you could benefit from  a Massachusetts mechanic’s lien by calling us at 508-763-6604 or sending Attorney Alan M. Cohen an email directly to [email protected].