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Is it legal for a plumber, that I did not hire, to file a mechanic's lien against my property?

Gainesville, GA |

I have a plumber that I use on a regular basis. He had done some work on one of my rental properties and I paid him for the job. He did something wrong and this resulted in an emergency situation. He agreed that it was his fault and because he would not be able to handle the emergency, he said he would send another plumber over there and take care of paying him. Long story short, this second plumber did the work and sent the bill to my plumber who has not paid it. The second plumber contacted me and we have both been trying to get my plumber to pay up. He keeps giving us the runaround. The second plumber said his only recourse was to file a lien against my property. I suggested that he file a small claims case against my plumber instead. Can he legally file a lien against me?

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Best answer

    As others have stated, he can file a lien against your property. However filing of the lien requires certain deadlines be met, notice requirements be satisfied, and it also requires that he bring legal action to "perfect the lien" within 360 days (assuming no technical defaults). You have rights to shorten that period. You may want to discuss this matter with a knowledgeable attorney to determine if you need to act at this time and to review your specific circumstances.

    Disclosure: This answer and any information contained in this answer is not intended to be treated as legal advice. It is for informational purposes to educate about legal issues. You should contact an attorney for specific legal advice for your situation. Specific legal advice based on full knowledge of your specific situation and all facts may differ from general information. This posting does not create an attorney-client relationship or privilege of any kind. This attorney actively licensed only in the State of Georgia. If this is a Georgia matter, you may of course contact me to discuss possible representation. FEEDBACK: Both AVVO and other readers are interested in your feedback on the quality of the answers. Please check the “thumbs up” symbol if you find an answer helpful.


  2. Yes, based on the facts stated the contractor can place a lien on your property for the services and materials provided.


  3. As it is not your home, the plumber can file a M & M lien. You can file a Third Party Petition to bring your original plumber into any suit.


  4. While the lien can be filed, liens law are very technical and even the slightest mistake and void a lien. In addition, you can force the lien claimant to sue the first plumber within 60 days by filing and service a notice of contest and if no suit is filed, along with a Notice of Commencement of Lien Action (which is another very technical document) you can get the lien thrown out. Many attorneys mess up liens so it is possible this plumber did too. If he did not mess, your course of action should consider the amount of the lien and the costs and time involved in dealing with this. If is a small amount, do you want to hire an attorney or go to court, or try and settle. At the end of the day the lien claimant will only have a claim on your property and would have to wait for you to sell or refinance - its not a personal judgment - using this as a negotiating ploy may entice him to take the money and run, so to speak.

    This is not intended to create an attorney client relationship and none is to be implied either. You must contact an attorney and present all facts before you can and should act on this response


  5. Others have correctly stated that the plumber who did the work can file a lien. The question is, what do you do next? As one answer notes, you can file a notice of contest of lien that forces the worker plumber to sue your regular plumber within 60 days. That may force payment to the claimant. Other answers have noted there may be mistakes that would void the lien, but those require your proving defects in the lien filing or notice process, and take up your time. The first question for you is: Does the lien cause you any problems, such as a lender requiring you get it off the title? If so, and depending on the size of the lien, you may want to pay the plumber in exchange for a lien cancellation and get him to assign his claim to you. Then, with the plumber who regularly does work for you, you have the leverage of the assigned claim and the enticement of future work. It seems to me the regular plumber would value the working relationship with you and get you paid off in cash or trade. I'd be happy to discuss this further with you if you like. Good luck!