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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience:  JA Mentor
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I am in texas and about 2 months ago, I contracted with A to

Customer Question

I am in texas and about 2 months ago, I contracted with A to have my driveway replaced and paid the contractor in full when the work was completed.
After the work was completed a subcontractor, supplied cement for the contractor, threatened to place a lien on my property.
The subcontractor was not paid by the contractor and filed a lien affidavit. The lien affidavit included an invoice for cement between the subcontractor and contractor, as well as the contractor's non-sufficient funds check he wrote to the contractor.
How is it possible that a lien affidavit can be filed against my property, though I paid the contractor?
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Meant to say . . .
The lien affidavit included an invoice for cement between the subcontractor and contractor, as well as the contractor's non-sufficient funds check he wrote to the sub-contractor.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

Texas law allows subcontractors who do not get paid to attach the property where work was done, because the homeowner ultimately gets the benefit of the materials, and the subcontractor has no ability to take them back. See Tex. Prop. Code, Section 53.021. It's not fair to homeowners at all, but it unfortunately is legal. Note that a subcontractor actually cannot hold you responsible for any insufficient funds fees he was charged due to the contractor's bad check. Section 53.023. If he wants that money, he needs to go after the contractor or file criminal charges.

If you wind up paying the subcontractor directly in order to have the lien removed, you can then sue the contractor for the amounts you had to pay. Another option is to wait to see if the subcontractor takes action to foreclose the lien before doing anything. Sometimes they file a lien and it just sits there for years, until it expires. If you're not planning to sue or refinance your home in the immediate future, the lien may not affect you.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
the only recourse I have is to pay the sub-contractor? The actual amount due to the contractor was $$1,200, yet the sub-contractor added $2,000 for placing and removing the lien, which appears to be prepared by a lay-person vs. a lawyer. Is this common?When do liens of this type expire?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

It's OK if the subcontractor placed their own lien as long as they're not an LLC, but a non-lawyer cannot represent someone or place liens. You could actually report that person to the bar association for unauthorized practice of law if they just had some third party file a lien. Also, you're not required to pay attorney's fees if this is for your own, even if they'd hired a lawyer. Section 53.156.

You can try contacting the contractor first and talking to them. Let them know you'll sue them if they don't pay the subcontractor and see what they say.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
If I am not at the above phone, please call my cell(###) ###-#### Thanks!
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

I'm unfortunately not able to call customers. I'm happy to continue discussing this here. Another expert may call you if someone is awake and online.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
The contractor will not return any calls or U.S. postal mail, so not a solution.I am trying to figure out how an additional $2,000 (said to be associated with the cost of filing and removing a lien) was derived and tacked onto the actual cost of $1,200 to subcontractor. It seems that the fee paid to file the lien was $52. What is the fee charged by the state to remove a lien?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Costs vary by county. Check with the local county recorders office to see what they charge to file a notice releasing the lien. If the lien itself is only one page, it's probably another $52, but they can tell you for sure.

You shouldn't have to pay an additional $2,000 in attorney's fees because this is on your home. You can try talking to the subcontractor and showing them the statute to see if they'll agree to release the lien for only the $1,200.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Are you an attorney?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Yes, I am.

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