This post is part four in our four part Mechanics Lien Horror Story Series throughout the month of October. Didn’t think liens could be spooky? Think again.
Click here to read part three

Imagine this…

Doctors Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Zeddemore have just finished exterminating another ghoulish infestation at the Sedgewick Hotel. Perhaps their encounter leaves a bit of a ghoulish mess around the hotel (a la the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man) and the property owners aren’t too keen on the property damage. The Ghostbusters send them an invoice, but the owners refuse to pay, citing that the property damage was too extensive. Concerned with the outstanding payment, Dr. Venkman decides they should put a lien on the property.
Following statute, the Ghostbusters send their mechanics lien to the New York county recorder well within their eight month deadline, but the question stands: did the ghostbusters have lien rights?

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Some states have stricter regulations on what type of work constitutes lien rights. While some statutes might allow for exterminator work to be considered an improvement on the property, others could see this service unfit for lien rights.

In New York, lien rights extend to every “contractor, subcontractor, laborer, materialman, landscape gardener, nurseryman or person or corporation selling fruit or ornamental trees, roses, shrubbery, vines and small fruits, who performs labor or furnishes materials for the improvement of real property.” Exterminators, while not specifically named, could possibly fit the bill as laborers, or contractors.

A different problem might be if the Ghostbusters are authorized to do business in New York. In the first movie, the team is shut down by the EPA for being unauthorized waste handlers. Without the proper authorization and permits, the Ghostbusters were essentially working without any type of business license. This may be detrimental to their lien rights, and hinges on when during their timeline the labor took place. If they had been a legitimate and functional business with proper licenses during the labor, there is a possibility that the Ghostbusters would have had lien rights.

Statute can get very specific as to what kind of labor reserves lien rights, but often grey areas come up. Anything from yard work to security system set up could possibly be constituted as property improvement, but it might not entail lien rights. If you’ve done work on a piece of property and are questioning whether you have have lien rights, who you gonna call?

Probably a lawyer for legal advice.

Happy Halloween!

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