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Mechanic's Lien? Can I file it against someone who is renting a property?

Boston, MA |

Can I file a mechanic's lien against someone who is renting a property? It is a commercial location with multiple different stores and the person I provided construction services for is now refusing to pay. Can I still file a mechanic's lien against him even though he does not own the property? He is a franchisee though.

Attorney Answers 4


Yes. There is definitely some type of lien right. The question is whether your lien is against the entire property and the property owner's interest therein, or against the tenant's "leasehold" interest only.

Some articles about this issue is available on this blog:

The specific rule in MA is found in the lien law's section 25:

It says that the lien is against the leasehold interest only. Still can file alien :) - it is just against the tenant, which still has immense value.

My Mechanics Lien Filing Service at 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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I am not a MA attorney, laws vary from state to state, therefore you should always consult a local attorney.

Here in NJ, you can file a mechanic's lien (construction lien) against a leaseholder - but your lien only affects the leasehold interest - not the ownership interest of the owner.

If this answer was helpful, please mark it as helpful or as a best answer. This answer is for general education purposes only. It neither creates an attorney-client relationship nor provides legal guidance or advice. The answer is based on the limited information provided and the answer might be different had additional information been provided. You should consult an attorney.

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Your question suggests that your contract is directly with the lessee, but it ins't completely clear. If you are a subcontractor you may not actually know whether the party responsible for payment is the lessor or the lessee. You may be able to file a mechanic's lien against the lessor's interest in the property (fee interest), which is much more valuable than a lien against a lease. You need to be sure that the lien is filed against the proper party as filing an improper lien can expose you to slander of title claims and you want to be sure that the person preparing your lien is going to stand behind the fact that it is done correctly. Some services don't do that, instead they rely upon you knowing everything and even require that you indemnify them for any mistakes.

A mechanic's lien is probably the best tool for getting you paid quickly, but there may also be other claims that you can make against the lessor, depending on a number of things, including the terms of the lease, as you may be a third party beneficiary under the lease. A Mass. lawyer can help you with that.

You should contact a local construction law attorney to help you review your documents and research the proper party to lien. If you don't already have a good construction attorney in the Boston area, try Mel Nash, he is in Brookline. I have know Mel for about 20 years. Mel is a great construction lawyer. Before he became a lawyer, he owned a structural steel fabricating company. Mel knows construction. If he can't help you, he will know who will be the best fit for you in the Boston area.

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As a MA construction attorney more information is needed to answer this question. Also a mechanics lien isn't necessarily your best option. I would also consider a demand letter under GL 93a section 11, which if you brought suit for breach on contract could potentially entitle you to treble damages attorneys fees and costs. Consult with an attorney for a more detailed answer and help on this.

Melissa Levine

Melissa Levine is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts. All answers are based on Massachusetts law and should not be construed as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed by Attorney Levine answering your question. It is advisable to consult with an attorney about your personal legal concerns.

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