As an architect, you take pride in your work and when you deliver your product to a customer, you expect to get paid. What can you do if they don’t pay you as agreed, even though you have already done the work? Contractors and subcontractors often use mechanic’s liens to help them secure payment, but architects often do their work even before the builders break ground. Can you still file a mechanic’s lien when you are not paid for your work?
At the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC, our experienced commercial collections attorneys often help architects and other parties involved in real estate development pursue payment through mechanic’s liens. We have nearly 50 years of combined experience representing businesses in debt collection.
Understanding how mechanic’s liens work
A mechanic’s lien is a legal tool that allows you to file a lien against the property you are working on. Under Massachusetts law, in order to file a mechanic’s lien, you need:
- To show you helped improve the property through materials or services
- To have a written agreement regarding the project that constitutes a contract under Massachusetts law
Time is of the essence with a mechanic’s lien. You must file your notice before either
- 60 days after substantial completion, or
- 90 days after you or your company last performed services on the project
Once you file the lien, you must notify the owner directly. You then must file again at the registry of deeds in order to enforce the lien. If the owner fails to pay, you may pursue a judicial foreclosure against the property. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC can help you ensure that you meet each requirement in a timely manner.
What if construction has not started?
Architects can still file a mechanic’s lien, even if other work has not begun. In fact, you can file a mechanic’s lien as a matter of formality as soon as you have your written contract. Once you deliver your work per the agreement, you have grounds for payment and enforcement.
Although your lien may be against a vacant lot at this point, it is still valid and enforceable. If the owner sells the property, the lien follows the sale and will likely be paid from the sale. If the owner declares bankruptcy, you will be in a strong position to collect any money the owner ends up paying out.
We take pride in our work, too
At the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC, we work hard on behalf of our clients to give them the best chance at recovering their money. Our goal is to help your business succeed. If you have questions about how to best approach collecting from a delinquent customer, contact our office to discuss your options. You can call 508-763-6604 or reach out to us using our online form.