They Put a Lien on Ralphie’s House!

Filming locations from famous movies…they’re just like us!

Or to put it another way: Just because your house was the setting for a famous holiday movie, that doesn’t mean that it’s immune from a mechanics lien. Read on to learn about the mechanics lien that was recently filed against the “A Christmas Story” house.

The house from “A Christmas Story” actually exists — it’s located in Cleveland, in Cuyahoga County, and it’s become something of a tourist attraction since the beloved movie was first released back in 1983. (It’s even been visited by some of the folks that work here at Levelset – see pic.)

The house was the subject of a recent mechanics lien filed by the material suppliers on a recent project there. Such is the power of mechanics liens — when the law is on your side, there isn’t much anyone can do to stop it.

Celebrities and Mechanics Liens – Not Uncommon

Mechanics liens only become necessary when a contractor, supplier, or another party who performs work on a construction project is not paid the money they’ve rightfully earned.

So, you’d think that a celebrity (or in this case, the home used as the primary location for one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time), would never be on the receiving end of a mechanics lien filing. Of all people, celebrities would have plenty enough money to pay for their construction work, right?

Wrong! Jay-Z and Beyonce once faced a mechanics lien for $450,000 worth of work on their pool (well, one of their four pools…it’s a $90M property). Reality stars face liens from time to time as well. Kandi Burress from The Real Housewives of Atlanta had 2 mechanics liens filed against her restaurant.

Just like famous people are not immune from mechanics liens, the same can be said for famous houses, which is exactly what happened with the Cleveland house that was used in “A Christmas Story.” In that case, it seems that a Toledo-based building supplier went unpaid to the tune of $7,001.48.

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The Power of the Mechanics Lien

The building supplier that filed the mechanics lien against the “A Christmas Story” house identified the general contractor as the party that “didn’t pay their bill.” While we may never know what really happened in this case, this speaks to the power of a mechanics lien.

You see, even if the payment issue was the general contractor’s fault, a mechanics lien is not filed against a person, company, or a party. No – mechanics liens attach to the underlying property that is being improved by the construction project. So, when the building supplier went unpaid and was forced to file a lien, the lien attached to the property itself — the famous house from “A Christmas Story.”

This is one of many ways (we’ve identified 17!) mechanics liens get the job done. By filing a lien, the claimant also put the property owner on the hook for payment.

A Mechanics Lien Is a Right, Not Just a Document

No one likes liens, and no one wants to have to file a lien on a project. That’s true whether you’re a mom and pop contracting firm doing small residential repair jobs on up to the largest commercial contractors.

But if you’re having trouble getting paid on a construction project — whether it’s a famous house from a Hollywood movie, a celebrity’s multi-million dollar estate, or just a random house from down the street — you need to know that the construction industry has a special set of rights that have been uniquely created to guarantee payment. These rights are called mechanics lien rights, and they have been a force in this country’s construction industry since colonial times.

A “mechanics lien” is about so much more than just filing a document. More than just a piece of paper, a mechanics lien is really a 3-step process. that when leveraged effectively, can almost guarantee that payment will be received.

Those that are forced to file a lien are not victims. In fact, they’re just the opposite — they’re simply Americans exercising their rights. Like we said above, no one wants to have to file a mechanics lien. But if you’re facing a serious payment issue on a job, why wouldn’t you exercise your right to get paid? Why would anyone be reluctant to use this legal tool that’s been available to the construction industry since the time of the Founding Fathers?

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