mechanics lien mistakes

Mechanics lien statutes are complex and technical, and they get mixed treatment by courts across the country with some courts very strictly construing and others very liberally construing the statutory requirements. It’s because of these varied restrictions that filing a mechanics lien can be a treacherous affair, and folks are at risk to make and errors.

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Probuild, a material supplier in Connecticut, made such an error when they filed their Connecticut mechanics lien in May 2009. In it, Probuild reported that its materials were furnished between Jan 8 – Feb 24, 2009.  The commencement date of January 8, 2009, however, was not correct as materials were furnished three months earlier in October 2008.  The lien was challenged because the statute requires the claimant to identify the commencement date, and the commencement date was incorrectly identified.  Does that small mistake invalidate the lien?

The Connecticut court of appeals in ProBuild East LLC v. Poffenberge had this to say:

We have long endorsed a policy favoring liberal construction of claimed inadequacies in certificates of mechanics’ liens in order to achieve the remedial purposes of the mechanics’ lien statutes. . . . In accordance with this policy, our courts have been liberal in validating liens despite claimed errors on the face of the lien certificate where the mistake was made in good faith and no resulting prejudice was claimed.

The mechanics lien here was declared valid and enforceable despite the error because there was no showing that the error resulted in prejudice to the defendants or that the error was made in bad faith.

Take-aways from this decision:

  1. Don’t commit these minor errors because even though they may seem harmless, if the other party can show “bad faith” or “prejudice” in any way, it may result in the invalidation of your mechanics lien; but
  2. If you do make a small mistake, you’re not fighting a completely uphill battle to keep your lien claim