What is a construction or mechanic’s lien?

Every State permits a person who supplies labor or materials for a construction project to claim a lien against the improved property.  While some states differ in their definition of improvements and some states limit lien claims to buildings or structures, most permit the filing of a document with the local court that puts parties interested in the property on notice that the party asserting the lien has a claim.  States differ widely in the method and time within which a party may act on their lien.  Also varying widely are the requirements of written notices between property owners, contractors, subcontractors and laborers, and in some cases lending institutions.  As a general rule, these statutes serve to prevent unpleasant surprises by compelling parties who wish to assert their legal rights to put all parties who might be interested in the property on notice of a claim or the possibility of a claim.  This by no means constitutes a complete discussion of construction lien law and should not be interpreted as such.  Parties seeking to know more about construction laws in their State should always consult their State statutes directly.

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