Mechanic’s Lien Basics

What is lienable in NY?

A lien may be filed for labor performed and material furnished for an improvement to real property when : 1) payment not received within the time provided for payment, 2) work for which payment is sought has been completed.

Any improvement that is integrated into real property is lienable.

Time Limit for Filing a Mechanic’s Lien in NY

A private improvement lien may be filed at any time during the progress of the work and the furnishing of materials, but no later than eight months after the completion of the contract or the final performance of the work.

In a matter involving a single-family residential property, the period is four months.

A lien filed by an unlicensed home improvement contractor is unenforceable. (Ellis v. Gold, 204 A.D. 2d 261, 611 NY52) 587 (2d Dept. 1994)

Place of Filing the Lien

The notice of mechanic’s lien must be filed in the county clerk’s office where the real property is located. A copy of the lien must be served on the property owner when filed by a contractor. A notice of lien filed by a subcontractor must be served on the property owner and the contractor immediately after filing. The manner of service is set forth by statute and must be strictly followed.  The most common method of serving a mechanic’s lien is certified mail, return receipt requested.

Contents of the Notice of Mechanic’s Lien on a private improvement:

1. The name and residence of the lienor and, if the lienor is a partnership or a corporation, the business address of such firm or corporation, the names of partners and principal place of business, and if a foreign corporation, its principal place of business within the state.

2. The name and address of the lienor’s attorney, if known.

3. The name of the owner of the real property against whose interest a lien is claimed.

4. The name of the person who employed the lienor, or to whom he/she furnished materials; or, if the lienor is a contractor or subcontractor, the person with whom the contract was made.

5. The labor performed or materials furnished and the agreed price or value, or materials actually manufactured for, but not delivered to the real property, and the agreed price or value.

6. The amount unpaid to the lienor for such labor or materials.

7. The time when the first and last items of work were performed and materials were furnished.

8. The property subject to the lien, with a description sufficient for identification; and if in a city or village, its location by street and number, if known. The notice must be verified by the lienor or his or her agent.

How long does a mechanic’s lien last in New York?

The lien remains valid for one year from the date of filing as stamped in the county clerk’s office.

If, within the one year period, an action to foreclose is commenced and a notice of pendency is filed with the county clerk, the lien will continue.

A lien, except those on a single-family dwelling, may be extended for another year, if the extension is filed before the first year expires. To extend a lien further, a court order must be obtained. To extend a lien on a single-family dwelling, a court order must be obtained.

New York Mechanic's Lien Deadlines:  Single Family Home 4 months; Commercial Projects 8 months; Public project 40 days from completion and acceptance; Retainage only 90 days from when retainage became due

The Basics of Discharging a Mechanic’s Lien

A lien can be discharged by:

1. Filing a certificate of the lienor in the office where the notice of lien was filed stating that the lien is satisfied or released in whole or in part.

2. The failure of the lienor to commence an action to foreclose the lien or file an extension form within one year from the time of the filing of the notice of lien.

3. Order of the court vacating or canceling such lien of record, for neglect of the lienor to prosecute.

4. Filing proof of final determination of the foreclosure action in favor of the owner of the property against which the lien was claimed.

5. An order discharging the lien of record where it appears from the face of the notice of lien that the lien is invalid.

The Basics of Enforcing a Mechanic’s Lien in NY

A mechanic’s lien may be enforced by commencing a breach of contract action as well as an action to foreclose the lien. These actions are filed in the State Supreme Court and can be time consuming and costly. Additionally, if proceeding with arbitration, a timely foreclosure action or lien extension should be filed in order to preserve the security.

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