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Timely Use of Massachusetts Mechanic’s Liens Can Get You Paid: Call Experienced Massachusetts Mechanic’s Lien Attorney Alan M. Cohen

Timely Use of Massachusetts Mechanic’s Liens Can Get You Paid: Call Experienced Massachusetts Mechanic’s Lien Attorney Alan M. Cohen

A mechanic’s lien is a legal procedure designed to protect contractors and subcontractors who perform work on real estate. A mechanic’s lien is a claim upon property to secure priority payment for work performed or materials provided. In the state of Massachusetts, a mechanic’s lien can be taken out by contractors, suppliers and almost all those who are related to the construction industry in order to help resolve disputes regarding payments. It is also known as a “Notice of Contact” or “Statement of Account” and may not be not available to any parties that fall below the tier lower than a sub-subcontractor, or suppliers-to-suppliers on private construction projects. A mechanic’s lien can be used to bring construction or development work to a halt, depending on the lender, until the necessary payments are made, or a lien subordination or bond is recorded with the Registry of Deeds. The Mechanic’s lien prevents the owner from selling or refinancing the liened property without first addressing the issue of any outstanding payments that need to be made. Lien law in Massachusetts is highly technical, and it takes a skilled lawyer with experience in construction law to ensure that your rights are protected.

Understanding a Mechanic’s Lien in Massachusetts

When it comes to a mechanic’s lien, the claimant is required to file a complaint to enforce the lien within the first 90 days after the recording of the Statement of Account (the second prong or third prong if you are a sub-subcontractor) the mechanic’s lien process in the state of Massachusetts. Claimants also need to record with the Registry of Deeds an attested copy of that complaint within 30 days after filing the Complaint to enforce the mechanic’s lien. The validity of the lien shall not be affected by an inaccuracy in the description of the property to which it attaches if the description is sufficient to identify the property. The Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen LLC is focused on providing mechanic’s lien advice and representation to clients in Massachusetts. With over thirty years of experience under our belt, we are at the best position to provide our clients with the legal advice and representation they need to increase their chances of getting paid.

Eligibility to File a Mechanics Lien

Any individual or business entity who has a written contract or any documents constituting a written contract, for  providing services or materials for the construction,  improvement or repair of a building, or for the development of land is eligible to record a Mechanic’s Lien in the state of Massachusetts. Before allowing enforcement of a Mechanic’s Lien, the court determines  whether the goods or services provided by the Lienor were, in fact, associated with the construction or improvement of the building or land. Also, regarding the filing of a mechanic’s lien by an unlicensed Claimant, Massachusetts does not have any specific requirements that the claimant of a mechanics lien is required to be licensed. That being said, those parties who are required by the state to be licensed in order to do the work that they are performing could be penalized for failing to meet those requirements.

Is There Need of Notarization of a Lien

The long answer is that the mechanics lien laws in the state of Massachusetts were amended back in 1996, particularly, the part of the mechanics lien law which stated that a Statement of Account was required to be signed and sworn to move the mechanics lien forward. This requirement has since been amended. That said, Massachusetts law does require the filing of a ‘just and true’ statement by the claimant at the registry of deeds, either in the district or county where the land is situated. However, we believe better form is to have all necessary signatures notarized which is really not a big deal.  Regarding the issue of attachments, the rights of an attaching creditor shall not prevail as against a lien under section 1, nor against the claim of a lienor if notice or notices of contract have been filed or recorded in the registry of deeds under sections 2, 2C, 2D or 4 prior to the recording of the attachment. However, an attachment recorded prior to the filing or recording of the notice of contract shall prevail against a lien, other than for personal labor, to the extent of the value of the buildings and land as they were at the time when the labor was commenced or the material furnished or professional services were commenced for which the lien is claimed.

Lien Enforcement

The most important aspect of a mechanic’s lien will be its enforcement. Claimants need to be aware that the lien shall be dissolved unless a civil action to enforce it is not commenced within 90 days after the filing of the statement of account. The good news is, that the validity of the mechanic’s lien shall not be affected by any inaccuracies in the description of the property to which it attaches, if the description provided is sufficient to properly identify the property.

What About Attorney’s Fees?

According to the law, in Massachusetts any cost, including that of the collections attorney, is not included in the sum total of the mechanics lien amount. The reason for that as set forth in the Bloomsouth decision by the Supreme Judicial Court is that the mechanic’s lien is only to the extent that a property has been improved by work done to or materials provided for a piece of property. Obviously, interest and attorneys’ fees do not generally improve a property. Another good reason for that is the Massachusetts Mechanic’s Lien statute gives the person who is filing the lien, the extraordinary ability to file a lien against the property owned by a person or entity with which they do not have a contractual relationship (unless of course, you’re a general contractor). To emphasize this, Massachusetts courts will only allow those liens to the extent that the labor or supplies had improved the property. This means that the interest that has accrued on the unpaid bill and the charges of the collection attorney is not included in the amount since it in no way helps improve a property. However, if you have contractual provisions requiring your customer to pay for interest above statutory amounts (12%) or attorneys fees, nothing in the mechanic’s lien statute prevents you from bringing a separate claim for these monies as well.

When it comes to a mechanic’s lien in Massachusetts, you are going to need the attorneys who are experienced in the business of preparing and enforcing mechanics liens. Hiring experienced mechanic’s lien attorneys who are focused on mechanic’s liens can significantly improve your chances of getting paid. All you have to do is contact the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen LLC today at (508) 620-6900 or email us at acohen@collections-law.com.

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