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A mechanics lien has been place on our home , what recourse do I have given the GC breached our contract ?

Oak Brook, IL |

We hired a GC back in Sept 2012 . He substantially completed work mid - October 2012 . We officially terminated him late October . We had a disagreement on the quality of work performed on three items ( one which was a code violation for electrical work ) and he withheld his sub to return to finish work . Our agreement stipulated 20% of the final payment is based upon satisfactory inspection by owner and completion of the last phase of work which was not completed . We received a notification from the GC stating he is filing a mechanics lien late February . My understanding is he missed his 4 month window as the mid - Oct 2012 date is used . Who determines the official day the clock starts ticking ? What recourse do we have now ? What type of attorney should we hire , construction or real estate ?

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Attorney answers 1


Good morning.

To establish a valid lien under Illinois law, a plaintiff shoulders the burden of demonstrating that (1) the lien claimant had a valid contract; (2) with the property owner, his or her agent, or someone properly authorized to contract for improvements; (3) the plaintiff furnished labor services or materials; and (4) the lien claimant performed pursuant to the contract or had a valid excuse for non-performance. Under what is known as the doctrine of substantial compliance, all that is required is substantial performance, in a workmanlike manner (a factual inquiry based upon the specifics of the particular case).

Assuming proper attachment of the lien, the claim must be properly recorded within four months of the last day that labor or materials were provided for the lien to affect the interests of the property owner and any third parties. After such recording, the contractor must then file suit to foreclose the lien within two years after completion of the work. If the contractor does not timely record a claim for lien (or file a suit to foreclose, within the four months), then the interests of third parties are not affected, but the contractor still can still proceed as to the owner’s interest by recording a lien claim or by filing suit, within two years after work completion.

If the owner makes a proper written demand upon the lien claimant requiring that suit be commenced, a lawsuit must be commenced within thirty days after service of the demand or the lien is forfeited. You can Google and review 770 ILCS 60/34 and 770 ILCS 60/35 if you would like.

If the lien was maliciously recorded, clouding title to your real estate, that would be sufficient to support a claim for slander of title.

You may want to sit down with an attorney and all relevant documents to see what options you may have.

Good luck.

Robert T. Kuehl
Kuehl Law, P.C.
Chicago, Illinois

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