There are scary stories about mechanic's liens out there and unfortunately, it is possible to get embroiled in an expensive legal entanglement over a small lien—maybe one you didn’t even know existed. How can you protect yourself? Here are the basics on liens and how to get a release of lien (Lien Waiver).

Get started Start Your Mechanic's Lien Waiver Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Definition of a Lien

When a tradesperson (carpenter or plumber, for example) does work on a home, they want to be sure they get paid. They may not be working directly with the homeowner, but have been hired by a general contractor to do the work. What recourse does this hardworking subcontractor have if they do the work but the contractor doesn’t pay them? They can file what’s known as a “mechanic's lien” against the property.

A lien gives the lien holder (the subcontractor) an assurance that they will get paid by giving them a claim against the real property. In other words, a lien uses the property as security. If the lien is recorded with the county, as it should be in order to make it official, it can cloud the title.

The homeowner may not even know that the tradesperson did not get paid by the general contractor; however, the property was improved by the efforts of this tradesperson, so the claim is legitimate. The real problem arises when the tradesperson asks the homeowner to pay the debt. If the homeowner can’t, or won’t, the subcontractor can go to court and ask the court to foreclose on the property in order to raise the money.

Protect Yourself With a Release of Lien (Lien Waiver)

In order to protect yourself against this troubling scenario, the best practice is to adopt the use of Lien Waivers (also known as release of lien, mechanic's lien release form, or Mechanic's Lien Waiver) and use them preemptively, before the problem arises. How do you do that?

We provide a Lien Waiver that you can print and use immediately. Fortunately, it’s a simple process. A Lien Waiver is similar to a receipt. It basically states that you’ve paid the subcontractor what is owed, they accept the payment in full, and they waive the right to put a lien on your property. Simply present this form to the subcontractor with your payment and ask them to sign it. Make sure you get their signature!

When Should You Use a Lien Waiver?

Whether you hire tradespeople directly, or work through a general contractor, insist that every worker sign a Lien Waiver as they are paid. Conventionally, it’s the general contractor’s job to do this, but you need to be watchful to make sure that the general contractor collects Lien Waivers and passes them on to you every time you make a payment.

Liens can also be filed in other situations, such as in a divorce, where the person who has moved out of the home still has a claim against the equity in the home. It’s also a possibility in cases that involve child support, where the court or other spouse can file a lien against the property of the person who owes child support.

While a scary scenario regarding mechanic's liens is possible, there is also an easy fix. Downloading and using our Lien Waiver may help prevent this from happening to you.

Get started Start Your Mechanic's Lien Waiver Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get started Start Your Mechanic's Lien Waiver Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.