What is a Mechanic’s Lien and How Can I File for One

What is a Mechanic’s Lien?
The concept of a mechanic’s lien traces back several centuries to its origin with Thomas Jefferson, one of our Nation’s founding fathers. At this time, the builders and laborers were often called “mechanics”, hence the name “mechanic’s lien” was born. These liens helped citizens to profit from their land by building farms and other property ventures.

Mechanics’ liens are statutory lien rights given to mechanics, laborers, and material suppliers who have contracted to improve real property. Under North Carolina law, a mechanic’s lien allows people providing labor, services, materials, or equipment used for improvements to real property to hold that property as a guarantee for payment of their completed work.

To enforce a mechanic’s lien under North Carolina law, the claimant must have performed work with the owner of the real property under a valid contract. A mechanic’s lien can be applied in matters relating to unpaid labor and material costs of a construction project, like those on homes and businesses. However, it does not apply to improvements made to government buildings.

How Does a Mechanic’s Lien Work?
When a mechanic’s lien is attached to a property, that property typically cannot be sold. By performing a title search, any potential buyer of that property would be able to see that there is a lien on the property. If a person buys a property with a lien attached to it, that person is now responsible for any liens attached to that property.

Importantly, each State has its own laws governing the enforcement of mechanic’s liens. It is helpful to be aware of potential time constraints and statutes of limitations for filing a mechanic’s lien based on when the work was performed or when construction was completed. Understanding these differences is helpful when it comes to properly filing a mechanic’s lien.

How Do You File a Mechanic’s Lien In North Carolina?
In North Carolina, a person can file a mechanic’s lien in the Office of the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county where the property is located. The owner of the property must be served with a copy of the lien claim. If a subcontractor is filing the claim, the general contractor must also be served with a copy of the lien claim. Importantly, there are timelines to keep in mind when filing a mechanic’s lien. In North Carolina, a lien is not valid until it is filed with the clerk and served on all the required parties. All these steps must be completed before the deadline, which is 120 days from the last day the person making the claim worked on the project or supplied materials.

How Is a Mechanic’s Lien Enforced?
In North Carolina, a mechanic’s lien remains valid for 180 days after the last day after the last date labor was furnished or materials were supplied to the project. Usually, most disputes about mechanic’s liens are resolved within this time. However, if the issue is not yet resolved, the person making the claim can file a lawsuit. Before filing a lawsuit, the person making the claim may choose to send a Notice of Intent to Foreclose to the other party. This notice states to the other party that a lien enforcement lawsuit will begin if payment is not made on the lien.

King Law Offices is a full-service law firm with an outstanding team of professionals who work diligently, creatively, and compassionately on behalf of our clients each day. If you have a current conflict with your title or your deed, contact King Law at 888-748-KING (5464) for a consultation. We have offices located across western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. We are here to serve you and to guide you as we navigate this journey together.

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