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Summary A lien is any legal claim on real property that acts as a security for the payment of a debt or other obligation. If the debt is not repaid as promised, the lender or the lien holder can foreclose its claim on the property and force a public sale to pay the debt. In some states, if you own the home you live in, your home is protected from most creditors except those holding a mortgage or lien on your residence. Under most circumstances, a lien cannot be placed on your home for an ordinary debt. However, creditors who improve or repair your home may put a lien on it to secure the payment for such work. Besides the actual mortgage note on your home, this is the most common form of lien - otherwise referred to as a mechanics' lien. This is a claim against the property being improved, which can be filed by anyone who provides materials or does work on the project and doesn't get paid.
The Notice of Commencement Usually, a Notice of Commencement is recorded before improvements start and it is the duty of the owner to prepare and sign and record such notice and to post a certified copy at the work site.
Request for copy of list of subs and suppliers An owner generally has the right at any time to request in writing a list of all subcontractors and suppliers who have a contract with the contractor to furnish materials or perform any services. The contractor should respond to the request by furnishing the list within a reasonable amount of time following receipt of the request.
Notice to Owner Most lienors are required to serve the owner with a notice of lien within a specific period of time from the lienor's first work or delivery of materials at the site.
Request for Sworn Statement The owner may request, at any time before the lienor files suit to enforce its lien, that the lienor furnish a written statement listing specific information.
Recording of Claim The claim of lien must be recorded in the county where the improved property is located within a specified period of time.
Service of Claim Under most statutes, the lienor is required to serve a copy of the claim of lien within a specific period of time after recording the lien.
Alternative As a condition to the owner making, and the contractor being entitled to receive, final payment, the contractor may be required to give to the owner lien waivers from everyone who the contractor is responsible for paying. In fact, under the laws of many states, a contractor must provide a waiver for all work for which the contractor has been paid, before accepting any further payment from the owner for additional work. In some states, neither the contractor nor the subcontractor may "waive" his or her mechanics' lien rights until payment is actually made whereas in other states a waiver is legally permissible.
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