Contractors & suppliers have strong lien rights in Maine. If a contractor or supplier isn’t paid on an Maine job, they can turn to filing a lien to speed up payment and protect themselves. However, there are specific requirements and rules that must be followed. Here are 5 essential things you need to know about Maine’s mechanics lien law.
1) Maine Mechanics Lien Law Does Not Include Tier Limitations
Project participants interested in filing a Maine mechanics lien have pretty broad protection. There is no tier limitation on who can file (i.e. sub-subcontractors may file) a Maine mechanics lien. Parties including surveyors, architects, engineers, real estate licensees, landscapers, and sellers of land/improvements or structures are also specifically covered by statute, along with more standard parties, like general contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers.
2) General Contractors May Proceed to File a Maine Mechanics Lien Directly with the Court
General contractors are not required to file a Notice of Lien with the registry of deeds of the county in which the project was located, as must a project participant with no direct contract with the property owner. The general contractor must file their lien in court within 120 days of last furnishing materials. Parties that did not contract directly with the property owner must file the mechanics lien claim in the county registry of deeds within 90 days of last furnishing materials or labor to the project, as well as filing the lien like the general contractor (file a complaint in the Maine District or Supreme Court within 120 days of last furnishing).
3) Preliminary Notice Is Generally Not Required
Preliminary notices are not generally required in Maine. However, there are a few instances in which a preliminary notice can significantly help protect mechanics lien rights. Intent to Lien may be filed with the Registry of Deeds in order to preserve the protection of lien rights against a potential purchaser. If this notice is not given, (or an action to enforce the lien has not commenced) a purchaser of the property will take the title of the property free of the lien. Further, by serving a Notice of Intent to Lien on the property owner on an owner-occupied project, a participant is able to make Maine a “full-price” lien state, rather than an “unpaid balance” lien state as it is if no notice is given.
4) Legal Property Description is Not Required In a Maine Mechanics Lien
In many states, the legal property description is required to be included on the mechanics lien. In Maine, the legal property description is not required. Instead, the property the lien is being placed on only needs to be described in enough detail to accurately identify the property. As always, however, a legal property description is always sufficient if provided.
5) If a Mechanics Lien Does Not Result in Payment, It May Have Priority
If the mechanics lien does not result in payment, and foreclosure on the lien is needed, the mechanics lien may have priority over the mortgage company. This is because a mechanics lien has priority over the property interests of the owner, and in Maine, the mortgage company is deemed to be the actual owner of the property. This means that if the lien claimant can show proof that the work performed or materials supplied were with the consent of the mortgage company, the mechanics lien would have priority even over the first mortgage.
A Notice of Intent to Lien may be enough to get you paid before a Mechanics Lien is even needed.