Construction and property development are often governed by several factors, including contracts, land use and zoning laws, restrictions, and more. In order for a project to be successfully fulfilled, all parties must comply with the rules. Businesses and individuals are legally obligated to pay contractors, subcontractors, material providers, and laborers for services and items provided to their property. When payments are not made, these providers are able to file a mechanic’s lien or construction lien against the business.
The real estate lawyers at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico have represented unpaid subcontractors and material providers in Roanoke and throughout southwest Virginia for a number of years. Since 1964, we have been helping our clients file property liens against businesses or business owners who neglected to pay for materials and services. We also help companies stay in compliance with licensing and development regulations in order to protect them from mechanic’s, construction, and builder’s liens.
How Does a Lien Work?
Virginia has a somewhat unique and powerful tool that allows contractors, subcontractors, and material and labor providers to receive payment for their construction jobs. These providers may file a mechanic’s lien against the owner of the real property upon which services, materials, and labor are provided. The lien is “against” the property, much like a mortgage or judgment.
The lien process is a technical matter that must be filed within 90 days of when materials or labor was last provided. It cannot include work performed over 150 days ago. If a mechanic’s lien includes any amount outside these periods, the whole lien is void. Depending on the specifics of your situation, various notices must be provided.
A court case must be filed within six months of receiving the lien to enforce it, or the lien itself will lapse. Homeowners, banks, and other contractors are usually most interested in resolving these matters because they tie the title to the property. Though it seldom goes that far, the real property can be sold to pay your lien.
How to Avoid Property Liens
There are a number of ways to avoid a mechanic’s lien, including:
Obtain a Lien Waiver
You can request that the contractor working on your property attain a lien waiver for everyone working beneath them (subcontractors, material suppliers, etc.). Such a document states that the workers have received payment for their jobs, and that they waive any right to file a construction lien in the future. If you have questions about how to go about obtaining a lien waiver, contact a property lien lawyer from our firm today.
Pay Workers Yourself
One certain way you can ensure that no liens will be filed against your property is to pay subcontractors and material suppliers yourself. If you choose this option, you would simply deduct the payments you make from the general contractor’s payment. This could cause some confusion, however, as you may end up looking like the employer. To avoid this, it’s recommended that you either write joint checks or obtain a lien waiver as alternative options.
Write the Proper Checks
One way you can ensure a lien is not filed against your property is to write out a check to both the contractor and subcontractor performing work. Only the ultimate beneficiary on the check (in this case, the subcontractor working on your property), is able to cash this check. As a result of writing out a check to both workers, you are increasing the chance that the subcontractor will, indeed, get paid.
Contact an Attorney at Our Firm for Help Today
A property lien lawyer at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico can provide you with valuable insight and experience to assist in any liens you are facing or may want to file. When you consult with our lawyers, we will address the issues surrounding your claim, and identify all of your legal options. Whether you are a business owner or a contractor, subcontractor, or a material provider, we will work hard to protect your best interests.
Our clients depend on the proven skills and decades of experience our attorneys provide. We have helped several business owners and individuals resolve complicated property issues involving mechanic’s and construction claims, and we are prepared to assist you with your case.