Contractors who do work on a property could potentially take out a lien if they believe that the owner failed to pay the bill. This can be straight forward, like a contractor who completed a remodel and claims the homeowner did not pay the bill, or more complicated. In some cases, it may be a third party who the original contractor hired out to complete a specialty job that is threatening this type of legal action.
What’s a homeowner to do in this situation?
First, it is important to take the matter seriously. As a recent case highlights, the matter can get complicated and very costly very quickly. The case involves a lawsuit that goes back to 2019 claiming the owner of an apartment complex in the Miami area failed to pay for marble used in the kitchens of his high-end units. According to the lien, if the property owner fails to pay the over $100,000 bill, he could lose the properties.
The next step is to check the contractor’s process. A contractor or other vendor cannot simply file a lien. To get a lien, they must follow proper protocol. This generally includes giving the property owner notice and time to respond. If the person or company that holds the lien has not followed this process, the lien may not be valid.
If the lien is valid, you can still fight back. One option is to show that you paid the bill in question. Copies of receipts for payment, cashed checks or credit card records could all potentially serve as evidence to build your case. Another option is a claim that the contractor was somehow in breach of the contract that led to the lien. Perhaps the work done was never completed or the wrong materials were used.