Real Estate Law
Have Real Estate Law Questions? Ask a Real Estate Lawyer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, I am.