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L AW & B U S I N E S S Understanding Mechanic’s Liens By Nancy Chillag n today’s economic cli- vary slightly from state to state, if you need to mail a copy to the I mate, many contractors, both general and special- provide basic procedures for notifying a homeowner that his homeowner or if the recorder will do the mailing. ty, are finding they are not get- property might be subject to a There are specific ting paid for the work they have lien and then recording and per- timelines for recording performed. This can be due to fecting the lien. the lien. Usually it is 90 the homeowner running out of days after the project is money or the general contractor Preliminary lien notices substantially complete or using the money paid to him to If you are a subcontractor or earlier (30 to 60 days) if cover his mortgage instead of a supplier, the homeowner does the owner records a notice paying his subcontractors. In not know that you are perform- of completion. If you don’t fact, many general contractors ing work on their property. You meet the deadline, your are declaring bankruptcy, leaving have contracted with the general lien is invalid. Many times their subcontractors and suppliers contractor for your services, and in the lurch. the general may or may not have How do you protect yourself? informed the homeowner of your One way is to take advantage existence. The law requires you Mechanic’s lien laws were developed of the mechanic’s lien laws of to tell the homeowner that you your state. Mechanic’s lien laws are doing work on their property to protect contractors who provide were developed to protect con- and that you have a right to lien valuable services to a property and tractors who provide valuable their property if you are not services to a property and then paid. There are specific forms then don’t get paid. don’t get paid. The laws, which to use and a copy must be sent to the homeowner, the general contractor and a lender if the you will be told “the check is of time (usually 90 days) before project is subjec
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