Did the contractor perform work on the house in question (the rental house) or was it something else?
Who contracted with the man to do the work?
Was the work completed and was payment made?
Is there work yet to be done that has delayed payment or has the man breached the contract to perform the work in some way?
Did the landlord (property owner) authorize the work?
A contractor may place a lien on the property they work to improve if the contract payment is not made in a timely manner. A lien is a security interest, not unlike a mortgage or deed of trust, that puts the world on notice that an unsatisfied debt is attached to the home. If you and your ex husband had a written lease and he had placed a notice in the land records that the home was a rental property then it is possible a lien could not be placed by the contractor. Since I doubt such notice has been provided in the land records the contractor may be free to place the lien.
The contractor can then sue you to enforce the contract. You also have the right to sue the contractor to remove the lien and for breach of contract if the work performed does not satisfy the terms of your contract with him. If the contractor prevails in the lawsuit then he could execute on your assets, garnish your wages, and potentially force the sale of the home to satisfy the judgment.
At this point you should consult a local attorney about this matter. You will need to explore your options for suing this contractor and preventing any lien from being placed on the home.
Please reply if I can help further.
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