Here is my frustrating story in short. I hired a drywall contractor to perform work at my house. I paid him about 70% of the job but this is only part of the problem. He up and left and completed about 40% of the work. I then moved on from this sore situation and retained another contractor to complete the work.
Two months later, presently, I received a letter from a pro bono clinic representing a person whom I dont recognize. Apparently, he was the employee of the first drywall contractor that bailed on the job. The letter cite and state that he can place a lien on my property for work performed as he was apparently not paid by his employer. Needless to say that I am baffled by this as I feel that it is ridiculous. Can the employee place a lien on my property?
Construction / Development Lawyer
This is true. Any laborers on a project (i.e. employees of contractors) can file a lien if they are not paid the wages they are owed. In addition to having this right, they are exempt from having to delivery any preliminary notices that may otherwise be required.
You have a right to proceed against the contractor you hired for the costs of paying his or her laborers.
My Mechanics Lien Filing Service at www.zlien.com. Our number is 866-720-5436. Avvo's terms and conditions apply, answers on Avvo are general responses to hypothetical scenarios presented by questioner.
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Elder Law Attorney
As indicated by the two other attorneys that answered this question, the answer is, "Yes." You can pay the wage claim, but it is reasonable to request proof of the hours worked on just your property. Moreover, not all labor is actually lienable. The work must have contributed to actual improvement. Accordingly, much landscaping work (for example) would not qualify. If the work was drywall, as you say, it is typically lienable, even for the preparation and clean-up. However, we successfully defeated a similar lien when we established that the contractor was not on site for the dates claimed. Homeowners and other property owners can prevent this by requiring people who will be on their project to sign in and sign out each shift. To read the lien states in Washington for yourself, you can access the legislative website: http://www.leg.wa.gov and enter the search term "RCW 64.50" and also read "RCW 18.27" which separately addresses the contractor's obligations prior to filing a lien. (As Michael noted, the notice requirements do not apply to wage claimants who are employed by the contractor).
You will want to preserve your own inquiry about the wages claimed, the documentation provided, and then pursue the contractor (if it is still solvent). If the contractor is no longer in business, you may still be able to file a claim against the registration bond. Look up the contractor's status at: http://www.lni.wa.gov. If the bond has not been taken by other claims, you should promptly notify the bonding company ("surety"). In Washington, a lawsuit is actually required to recover against the bond. However, you may claim attorney fees up to the penal sum of the bond.
Without knowing all of the details, reviewing documents, and interviewing witnesses, no person should assume that this Answer constitutes specific legal advice for any specific legal situation. No attorney-client relationship is created by posting general legal responses on this site.
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