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Alan Cohen

How Mechanic’s Liens Are Effective Ways to Collect Your Monies

If you are unlucky enough to have done business with construction companies or property owners who seem to be rolling in cash, but never have time to pay, you’ll soon find out the importance of a mechanic’s lien in Massachusetts in debt recovery. It is not unheard of for corporations or individuals to engage in various unfair tactics to try to weasel out of a deal with a general contractor, supplier or subcontractor after receiving labor, materials or equipment for a construction project.

If you work in or supply materials to the construction industry and are not using mechanic’s liens for your debt recovery, you are missing out on a valuable tool. Your industry is the only one with this type of collection tool, and it works very well. For contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers, a mechanic’s lien protects you from deadbeats on the jobsite.

Why Should I File a Mechanic’s Lien With a Trusted Attorney?

Before we can get into the risks of not filing a mechanic’s lien, it’s important to take a step back and find out why you are contemplating a mechanics lien. There’s a good chance that you are probably thinking about recording a mechanic’s lien because you’re worried that you might not get paid for the improvements that your company had provided to the jobsite. While the details of this situation will vary from project to project and person to person, there are a few key points to keep in mind that are shared by anyone who is thinking about filing a mechanics lien. To be able to take advantage of this debt recovery tool you need:

1. A written contract. In Massachusetts, it does not have to be a single document. It can be a series of emails, texts or other writings that when read together reflect an offer, an acceptance of the offer, a description of what the service or material that is being provided and where it is to be provided, It is helpful that the writings also reflect how much is to be paid for the service or material.

2. To be timely. Under certain provisions of c. 254, the mechanic’s lien statute, you must record the first component of the mechanic’s lien, the Notice of Contract within 90 days of the date that you last provided materials and/or labor to the job site. Just because it is a deadline does not mean that you have to wait to that point to record the Notice of Contract.

3. To record the Notice of Contract before the contractor or subcontract who hired you abandons the job. If you try to enforce a mechanic’s lien after an abandonment, the law is not in your favor. Remember a mechanic’s lien is only good as to monies due or to become due. In the event of an abandonment, the mechanic’s lien law in Massachusetts is that once there has been an abandonment by a contractor, there are no monies due or to become due to that contractor. What this means to you is that if you snooze, you very well could lose big time.

4. To give the record owners of the property notice of the mechanic’s lien.

5. To record a Statement of Account within 120 days after you or the person or entity through whom you are making the claim, last performed work or supplied materials to the project site. If you are 121 days from that deadline, you are one day too late. The law will not forgive your error.

6. To file suit within 90 days from the date on which you recorded the Statement of Account.

7. To record a certified copy of the complaint in the correct registry of deeds within 30 days from the date that you filed suit.

8. To serve the defendant within 90 days of filing suit.

There are many owners in the construction business that prefer not to file a mechanic’s lien, thinking that it might damage the reputation of their business or that it might have a negative impact on their business relationships. To those business owners who are having these thoughts, think about it this way: if you are going through a non-payment situation that’s bad enough to put you out of business, you won’t need to worry about your reputation because there will be no business left to worry about.

With all of this being said, here are just a few reasons why you should consider calling an experienced Massachusetts attorney to prepare your mechanic’s lien:

Proper Documentation 

In order to enhance debt recovery by properly recording a mechanic’s lien, a Notice of Contact (as well as a Statement of the Account) must be prepared. As required by the lien statute, a property owner must receive written notice alerting them of the Notice of Contract that accurately reflects the amount of the unpaid debt owed to the contractor/architect/supplier who provided a good or service to their property. A Notice of Contract does just that. A knowledgeable mechanic’s lien attorney can prepare a “Notice of Contract Form” for your review and signature.

The “Pay for What You Get” Theory 

Many websites offer discount services to prepare mechanic’s liens. HOWEVER, they don’t execute the due diligence required to provide an enforceable lien. While this route may seem like a money saver, you will more than likely lose money in the long run. An experienced attorney knows how to properly create, perfect and, most importantly, enforce a mechanic’s lien. Very often, property descriptions are convoluted. Sometimes properties are described in one or more deeds recorded in either or both recorded land and registered land, which is a district of the Land Court. Sometimes properties straddle two counties which means to perfect your mechanic’s lien, the Notice of Contract and other lien documents need to be recorded in both counties. Sometimes there has been a bond filed to protect against all mechanic’s liens. Sometimes a bond has been filed to protect against only an existing mechanic’s lien. Sometimes the property has been deeded out during the construction progress. Sometimes the property is a condominium.

Do you really want to trust the debt recovery of your monies to a distant website service?

Attachments of Property Interests 

In order for a mechanic’s lien to be effective, the property interests of an owner and/or tenant must be successfully attached to the lien and done so within strict compliance of each condition of the statute. If the property interests are not properly attached, a mechanic’s lien fails to give any security and can create a “slander of title,” making the contractor, architect, or supplier liable to the property owner.

Once you secure the mechanic’s lien, the next goal is to get paid for your labor or materials provided to the construction site. While a lien is usually enough to get a contractor or material supplier paid, sometimes it is not enough. In these cases, an experienced Massachusetts collections attorney will file debt recovery litigation in the district or superior court in which the property is located to perfect and enforce your mechanic’s lien.

The aggressive collections attorneys at the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen LLC do this and more. They will file suit to perfect and enforce your mechanic’s lien and use all other appropriate tactics to try to collect your bad debt. Once they have obtained a judgment in your favor, they do not stop there. They will seek, and judge willing, obtain a warrant of sale to sell the property on which the lien is recorded. Sometimes it does not make economic sense to sell the liened property.

Armed with a judgment, the collections lawyers at the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen know how to collect debt and to enforce judgments.

When it comes to the filing of a mechanic’s lien for general contractors, suppliers, or subcontractors, the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen LLC has over three decades of mechanic’s lien substantial experience and is very familiar with the laws surrounding mechanic’s lien in the Commonwealth  of Massachusetts. If you want to use the debt recovery tool of mechanic’s liens, there’s no need to take any chances. What you need is an aggressive and proactive attorney with experience in bad debt collections, creating and collecting upon mechanic’s liens and knows how to enforce judgments. What you need is collections attorneys at the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen LLC. Call us today at (508) 620-6900 or email us at when you need swift debt recovery.

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