Working in construction comes with many risks. There are obvious physical risks that come from working on a building or handling heavy machinery. There are also certain financial risks, as not every client will make good on their obligations to a construction company or professional in a timely manner.
New York state law allows contractors, subcontractors and material providers to request a mechanic’s lien if their invoices go unpaid after performing work out of construction project or providing materials for the work. Keeping a close record of who has paid you and pursuing unpaid invoices in a timely manner is important.
If you need to obtain a mechanic’s lien to push the other party into compliance, you have a limited amount of time to take action.
You may only have four months to file a request for a lien
There are statutes of limitations that applied to many civil actions that people take in New York. If you want to use a lien against the property to compel a non-paying client to reimburse you for the work you did or the supplies you provided, the sooner you start the process, the better.
If the property is a residential property that serves as someone’s primary residence, you may have as little as 120 days to file paperwork with the courts to initiate a mechanic’s lien claim. Any other property that does not serve as a single-family primary residence requires that you act within eight months of the last time that you provided services or supplies for the project.
Given the chances of issues arising, you will probably want to take steps within the first month or two of completing the project, rather than waiting until the window of opportunity has nearly closed.
How a mechanic’s lien helps you collect
When you request a mechanic’s lien, it will usually remain effective for at least a year after you file it, although you may be able to apply to extend that deadline. You can enforce the lien against the property to compel the owner to pay you. They will not be able to transfer or sell the property to someone else without first fulfilling their obligations to you.
Understanding the rules about obtaining a mechanic’s lien can help you recover the pay you deserve for providing services or materials for a recent construction project.