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Our blog’s readers should know I firmly believe that mechanics lien claims help companies get paid. When a mechanics lien is filed, it operates in multiple ways to increase pressure at the project to pay your debt.

One of the ways a mechanics lien gets companies paid is that it ties up the property, preventing the property from being bought, sold, transferred or refinanced. While a mechanics lien claim doesn’t last forever and does officially expire after a certain period of time in every state, a question I came across this morning on is a reminder that even though a lien claim “officially expires,” it could even continue to cause problems years later.

A property owner in Iowa posted this on Avvo:

i had a window and siding company (50 miles away) come to my house in 2004 and replaced both w and s. i was never happy with the job…i decided if they were going to ignore me then they weren’t getting paid. a few years ago i tried to refinance at my bank and found out the company put a lien on my house. now it’s 2012 and i’m wanting to sell. what can i do 8 yrs later to get this dropped…what can i do so i can sell and move?

Of course, the mechanics lien here is expired, and getting it removed would be a fairly easy affair (although one that requires the homeowner to hire and pay an attorney).  And of course, since the mechanics lien claimant hasn’t removed the expired lien, they do subject themselves to potential damages for the improper encumbrance on the home.

Notwithstanding those issues, it is interesting to see how much trouble this mechanics lien caused this homeowner.

The homeowner wanted to refinance a few years ago, but couldn’t. Now, the homeowner wants to sell the house and move, but is having trouble with that, too.

By no means am I advocating that mechanics liens should be filed improperly, or left on property too long.  Doing this opens yourself up to trouble and expense. But I think this story advertises how effective mechanics lien claims can be – even when they are statutorily ineffective, they are still causing problems for property owners.  When you’re unpaid, problems for property owners usually equals payment.

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