January 20, 2006
FILING MECHANIC'S LIENS
By: Daniel Duffy, Principal Analyst
You asked for the requirements for filing mechanic's liens in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island.
A mechanic's lien provides security to contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers for the value of their services or goods provided to make an improvement to real property. Mechanic's lien laws include filing and notice requirements to protect the property owner and others with an interest in the property.
Connecticut allows anyone with a claim of $10 or more to file a mechanic's lien. The lien certificate must be filed within 90 days of performing the work or supplying the materials, state the amount claimed, and be sworn to. Massachusetts sets 90- or 120-day deadlines for filing lien notices, depending on the type of contract under which the work was performed or materials supplied. The notice must include a “just and true” account of the amount owed. New York allows anyone who has supplied labor or materials to improve real property to file a lien on the county land records for the value or agreed-upon price of the labor or materials. The lien must be filed within eight months, or four months if the property was a single-family home, after the last day on which work or materials were supplied. Rhode Island requires that the lien notice be filed within 120 days of completing the contract and that it be filed under oath.
A mechanic's lien is a way for contractors or suppliers to make certain that they will be paid for services provided or materials furnished. The lien applies to the property owner's land and buildings or other improvements. It may be filed by someone who had an agreement with the property owner (a contractor) or by someone who had the consent of someone with authority to act on behalf of the property owner (a subcontractor).
Once filed, a mechanic's lien may be enforced or dissolved through court action. If no action is initiated, a mechanic's lien expires. Under Connecticut law for example, a mechanic's lien expires after one year after it has been filed and notice served on the property owner, unless the lienor sues to foreclose it and records a notice of the foreclosure on the land records.
Connecticut allows anyone who “has a claim for more than $10 for material furnished or services rendered” in connection with improvements made to real property to file a certificate of a mechanic's lien with the town clerk. It must be filed within 90 days after supplying the materials or completing the work. The certificate must be sworn to and include: (1) a property description, (2) the amount claimed, (3) the name of the person against whom the lien is being filed, (4) the date when materials or services were first provided, and (5) a statement that the amount claimed is justly due, as nearly as can be ascertained. The law requires the town clerk to file the certificate on the land records. Within 30 days after filing the certificate, the filer must serve a true and attested copy of the certificate on the property owner (CGS §§ 49-33 to 49-40a). By law, a person is guilty of false statement in the second degree when he intentionally makes a false written statement under oath which he does not believe to be true and that is intended to mislead. False statement in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor (CGS § 53a-157b). Someone who commits a class A misdemeanor is subject to a penalty of up to one year imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,000.
Massachusetts allows anyone to whom a debt is owed for making improvements to real property by virtue of an agreement with, or by the consent of, the property owner to file a lien. The law requires a notice of lien to be filed with the registry of deeds. Contractors and subcontractors working under a written contract must file the notice by (1) the 90th day after filing a notice of substantial completion of the work, or (2) the 120th day after the last day performed or furnished labor or materials. If there is no written contract, the notice must be filed within 90 days of performing the work. All notices must include a “just and true account” of the amount due or to become due, a brief description of the property, and the name of the property owner (Ann. Laws of Mass. Ch. 254).
New York allows a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier who has performed services or supplied materials in connection with an improvement to real property with the consent, or at the request, of the property owner or his agent to file a notice of lien for the value or agreed-upon price of the labor performed or materials supplied. The notice must state: (1) the names and addresses of the person claiming the lien and his attorney, if any; (2) the name of the property owner; (3) the name of the person who contracted for the services or materials; (4) the labor performed or materials supplied; (5) the unpaid amount; (6) the time when the first and last items of work were performed or materials supplied; and (7) a description of the property sufficient for identification.
The notice may be filed at any time during the progress of the work or within eight months (four, if related to a single-family dwelling) of completing the contract. The notice must be filed in the county clerk's office. The clerk must record the notice in a book titled “Lien Docket.”
The lienor must, within 30 days of filing the notice, serve a copy on the property owner (N.Y. Lien Law §§ 3 to 39-c).
Rhode Island allows anyone who has a claim for materials supplied or services furnished in connection with an improvement to real property to file a “Notice of Mechanic's Lien.” It must be filed with the town clerk or recorder of deeds, as appropriate, within 120 days of supplying the materials or completing the work. It may be filed before or after supplying the materials or furnishing the services. In order to perfect the notice, it must be sent to the property owner as well as filed with the municipality. The town clerk or recorder of deeds must record the document.
The document must be signed under oath and include: (1) the name and address of the owner, lessee, or tenant of the property, as appropriate; (2) a general description of the property sufficient to identify with reasonable certainty; (3) a general description of the material supplied or services furnished and their approximate value; (4) the name and address of the person for whom the work was done directly; (5) the name and address of the person sending the notice and his legal representative; and (6) a statement that the person sending the notice has not been paid (R.I. Gen. Laws § 34-28-1 et seq.).