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New Jersey & New York Construction Law Blog

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Enforcing a mechanic’s lien

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2021 | Construction Liens |

Skilled tradespeople in New Jersey understand the why of using a mechanic’s lien. It protects them in the case of non-payment. A mechanic’s lien is an instrument that gives workers an interest in a property since they’ve done work to improve it and raise its value. It’s very common to use such a lien when working on a car or home. However, knowing how to enforce this kind of lien is less common.

Legal enforcement

Luckily, not every skilled tradesperson will need to enforce liens during their career. But when it’s necessary to, they do need to know how to do it. In some instances, simply filing construction liens will prompt the client to pay in full, or at least come to the negotiating table. In other cases, it’s necessary to start a formal enforcement procedure.

Mechanic’s lien enforcement requires a lawsuit. This kind of legal action is often known as a lien foreclosure action. Lien enforcement follows all the normal steps seen in any lawsuit. It requires filing the case, serving the other party with paperwork and so on. While individuals can represent themselves in such a lawsuit, it’s usually better to secure an attorney for that role.

Mechanic’s liens are governed by laws at the state level. In New Jersey, the deadlines for mechanic’s liens vary depending on what kind of work was done. For residential properties, contractors have up to 120 days after finishing a project to file the lien. For commercial properties, it’s 90 days. One unusual feature of New Jersey law is that suppliers, not just tradespeople, can file mechanic’s liens.

Using mechanic’s liens is a good way for skilled workers to protect their interests. Liens can still mean a long legal process before getting paid. But it’s better than the alternative.