While The Construction Payment Blog routinely provides “breaking news” alerts in the fields of mechanics lien law and credit management, it is a rare occurrence when those arenas intersect with popular culture and celebrity newsmakers. However, such a situation is currently unfolding, as the filing of a mechanics lien against his property has potentially added to the recent legal troubles of Justin Bieber.
Mechanics Lien Filed Against Justin Bieber’s Property Adds To Legal Woes
Recently, construction work was undertaken at Justin Bieber’s Calabasas, CA mansion. While details are unclear, it appears that a payment dispute of some sort arose from that work, and as a result, a mechanics lien was filed against the property. While not nearly as serious as recent allegations made against Bieber, including accusations of DUI, drag racing, resisting arrest, and driving with an expired license in Miami, egging his neighbor’s house in Calabasas, having his bodyguard attack a photographer, and more, it is still something that must be taken seriously.
While a mechanics lien is clearly small potatoes (albeit not cheap) compared to potential felony charges, it nonetheless presents an additional legal hurdle for Beiber. The merits of the payment dispute are unknown, but the filing of a mechanics lien can be frustrating. It is unlikely that Justin Bieber will attempt to refinance his house anytime soon, but with rumors swirling that he may be looking to sell his estate, the mechanics lien could prove to be a serious headache. If a mechanics lien is filed prior to closing, any potential buyer of the property would likely take the property subject to the existing lien. On a multi-million dollar property, a mechanics lien for remodeling work may only amount to a drop in the bucket, but buyers dislike additional costs once the purchase price has been established.
The good news for Beiber is that a mechanics lien is a legal issue that is relatively easy to resolve. If money is owed, payment of the debt will result in the lien being extinguished and a request will get it removed from the property records. If the claim is frivolous in any manner, Bieber (or more accurately Bieber’s attorney’s) can choose to fight the lien in court. California has a relatively quick timeline in which an action to enforce a lien must be filed, or the underlying lien will expire. So, in any event, the validity of the lien and the amount owed, if any, will likely be determined shortly.
What Is A Mechanics Lien Anyway?
A mechanics lien is a legal remedy, unique to the construction industry, through which money owed for services performed to improve a piece of property can be secured and collected. If a party performs work pursuant to a construction contract, and is unpaid for that work, that party can file a lien against the property itself to prompt payment.
The lien is a “security interest” in the property and can facilitate payment a number of different ways, the most formidable of which being that if the debt remains unpaid, it is possible for the lien claimant to force the foreclosure sale of the property to satisfy the debt. As well as providing that relatively harsh option, a mechanics lien also obligates more parties to pay the debt, gets the attention of the property owner and/or construction lender, encumbers the property so that a sale or refinance is unlikely, and sets deadlines for the resolution of the claim.
Above all, mechanics liens are legal instruments designed to protect the rights of people to get paid for their work, and to ensure that the parties required to bear the financial risk of a construction project are those who are best able to do so, the parties with the money.