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Mechanic's Lien basics

Despite the name, a Mechanic's Lien is not something only mechanics can use. On the contrary, a Mechanic's Lien can be used by almost any type of skilled laborer to collect money owed to them, including repair people, tradespeople, contractors, subcontractors, electricians, and plumbers. Suppliers, sub-contractors, and professional service providers may also be entitled to file a Mechanic's Lien.


How do mechanic's lien's work?


If you supplied materials and/or labor to a project for which you have not been paid, a Mechanic's Lien is a legal option available to you that puts the debtor on notice of your intent to pursue your legal right to attach a lien to their property. If they still fail to remit payment, you can actually file a lien against the property. The lien gives you additional legal rights, such as the right to be paid before the property can be sold or mortgaged. There are two general types of Mechanic's Liens, a non-possession and a possession lien. A non-possession lien works when the entity that provided the service or materials does not have possession or hold title to the property. For example, a plumber who installed the plumbing in a new construction build. When filed, the lien is against the property. A possession lien is best when the entity providing the service has the property in their possession. A mechanic who performed repairs on a vehicle, for example, and still has the vehicle in their possession. In this case, the mechanic may have the legal right to hold the property until paid.


Is a Mechanic's Lien document right for me?


Some of the most common situations in which a Mechanic's Lien document may be used include:

  • You completed construction work and you have not been paid by the client.
  • You are a subcontractor who has not been paid by the contractor.
  • You are a supplier who has not been paid for materials.
  • You have not been paid for professional services such as architectural services.

How do I get a Mechanic's Lien?


The process and procedure for obtaining a Mechanic's Lien will differ somewhat by state; however, most states require a preliminary notice in order to pursue a Mechanic's Lien. This is submitted prior to the work being performed or materials being delivered and reserves the right to file a Mechanic's Lien at a later date. Also referred to as a Notice to Owner, Notice of Furnishing or Notice of Right to Lien, a preliminary notice is typically a document you file with your county recorder's office.


What happens when a Mechanic's Lien document is filed?


In most states, you must file for a Mechanic's Lien within 60 to 90 days of the time you stopped receiving payment for your work and/or materials. Once the Mechanic's Lien document is filed with the county recorder and has been served on the debtor, the lien attaches to the property for the duration allowable by law which differs by state but is typically six months to a year. The debtor can only remove the lien by satisfying the debt or by agreement of the parties.


Does a Mechanic's Lien affect your credit?


A Mechanic's Lien is treated as a judgment and is a derogatory mark on your payment history. Consequently, having a Mechanic's Lien on your credit history will negatively impact your credit score.


Can I complete a Mechanic's Lien document online for free?


Rocket Layer lets you draft a Mechanic's Lien document online for free. All you need to do is go through the document interview process and fill in some basic information. Once you have completed your Mechanic's Lien, you can access it anytime, anywhere, on any device. As a Rocket Lawyer Premium member, you can also copy, edit, download, or print it anytime. You can also use your Rocket Lawyer membership to have your Mechanic's Lien document reviewed by an experienced On Call attorney from our nationwide network.


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