A mechanic's lien must closely follow the statutes which create it in order to be valid. Often contractors prepare the mechanic's liens themselves, or hire attorneys that are not familiar with mechanic's liens to prepare them. But the smallest mistakes can be fatal to a mechanic's lien.
The mechanic's lien is filed late
A mechanic's lien in New York must be filed within the following time frames: 1) Single Family Dwelling: The mechanic's lien must be filed within four months of the last time that the contractor provided labor or materials to the project. 2) All other private projects: The mechanic's lien must be filed within eight months of the time that the contractor last provided labor or materials to the project. 3) Public projects: The mechanic's lien must be filed within thirty days of the time that the public entity accepts the project.
The address identified in the mechanic's lien is incorrect
All mechanic's liens must identify the project to which the lien attaches. For private mechanic's liens, the liens identify the address of the real property and attach to the real property. For public mechanic's liens, the liens identify the public project (usually the contractor number too) and the lien attaches to the public fund. The lien usually should contain the project address as well as the block and lot number found on the County
The contracting parties identified in the mechanic's lien are incorrect
The mechanic's lien must identify the parties with whom the lienor contracted for the services being liened. Common mistakes include identifying the wrong corporation (thinking you were working for ABC Corp. when in fact you worked for XYZ Corp.), misnaming the corporation (listing ABC Contracting Corporation when you in fact worked for ABC Construction Corporation, and naming the individual that you actually dealt with rather than the corporation that the contract was with (naming Joe Smith when in fact the contract with Joe Smith Contracting, LLC).
The mechanic's lien does not list a New York Address or an Attorney within New York for the Lienor
The Lien Law requires that all mechanic's liens identify an address within the State of New York where a lienor maintains an office. Alternatively, if the lienor does not have an office within the State of New York, it may identify its attorney that has an address within the State of New York.
The mechanic's lien identifies a Post Office Box as the lienor's address
The address identified in the mechanic's lien by the lienor must be an actual physical address and it cannot be a Post Office Box.
The mechanic's lien was not properly served
Under New York's Lien Law, a mechanic's lien must be served within 5 days before it is filed or within 30 days after it is filed. Service must be by a method identified in the Lien Law with certified mail return receipt requested being the most common method of service.
The affidavit of service was not filed
While a mechanic's lien can be filed before it is served, the lienor must still serve the mechanic's lien and file the affidavit of service. Failure to file the affidavit of service on time is fatal to the mechanic's lien.
The amount of the mechanic's lien is exaggerated
This is probably the most common complaint about a mechanic's lien. The owner or general contractor will claim that the lienor is not owed the amount set forth in the mechanic's lien. However, complaints about the amount of the lien do not go to the face of the lien so it is not a reason to discharge a lien unless the lien is foreclosed upon. However, if a willfully exaggerated mechanic's lien is foreclosed upon, the Lien Law provides that the entire lien can be invalidated and the lienor can be held liable for the amount of the exaggeration. For example, if the lienor is only actually owed $50,000, and filed a mechanic's lien for $150,000, if intentionally exaggeration is proved then the entire lien is invalidated (not such the exaggerated portion) and the lienor can be liable for the $100,000 exaggeration.
The description of the labor and materials provided is insufficient
All mechanic's liens filed in the State of New York, whether on a commercial project, residential home or public improvement, must contain a concise statement describing the labor and materials that were provided. Personally, I prefer to be overly descriptive rather than using simple generic terms. In addition to assuring that the lien will not be challenged on the description, a detailed description can help the lienor get paid as everyone who gets the lien will have a better idea of what was done and will be able to investigate why payment was not made. General blanket descriptions should be avoided.
The wrong owner of the property is identified in the mechanic's lien
The mechanic's lien must identify the owner of the property. This is something that can easily, quickly and cheaply be verified by a quick title search but often lienors skip this step and simply identify the person that they believe to be the owner. Identifying the incorrect owner is fatal to the lien. The mechanic's lien must identify the owner of the property. This is something that can easily, quickly and cheaply be verified by a quick title search but often lienors skip this step and simply identify the person that they believe to be the owner. Identifying the incorrect owner is fatal to the lien.