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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience:  JA Mentor
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Under what circumstances can a contractor put a mechanic's

Customer Question

under what circumstances can a contractor put a mechanic's lien against a property? we hired a contractor but fired him after he failed to meet our deadline. however, we have the only signed copy of the contract, so can he still put a lien against our
property? what happens if he does put a lien against our property? do we go to court? and if the judge finds in our favor and he still does not remove the lien, what happens? we are on a tight completion schedule with the property as it's a rehab/resale and
cannot afford to have this tied up.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.
Unless the contract says "Time is if the essence," a homeowner unfortunately does not have a right to cancel a contract and refuse payment just because the work is not completed on time. You're required to give him a reasonable time to finish the job. Otherwise, you're in breach of the contract.
A contract is allowed to place a lien whenever he is owed money for work performed or materials purchased, if it's more than $500. If he places the lien, he can either leave it there until you want to sell the property, at which point you'd have to pay him, or he could sue to foreclose the lien, which would mean the property could be sold out from under you - even if you aren't past due on your mortgage.
If the judge finds in your favor, he would be required to remove the lien or he's in contempt of court and he could be sued for damages.
One way to avoid a problem with the property being tied up is to pay the contractor, write "under protest" on the check, and then sue for a refund. But the judge could find in the contractor's favor if you didn't give him a chance to finish the job (even if he missed the deadline).
If you have any questions or concerns about my response, please reply WITHOUT RATING. It's important that you are 100% satisfied with my courtesy and professionalism. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so I am paid for the time I spend answering questions. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to scroll to the right. There is no charge for follow-up questions. Thank you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
theoretically, the contractor does not have a contract. what is to prevent us from saying he was just doing work for us, we found his work dissatisfactory and let him go?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
The Rules of Civil Procedure allow him to Request that you produce the contract. A person who fails to produce evidence could be held in contempt of court.
Providing a false statement in court documents or lying in court is governed by perjury laws.

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