New York is one of those states with multiple mechanics lien deadlines. Your deadline will actually change depending on the nature of the project. As explained in Levelset’s New York Mechanics Lien Resources:

Generally, lien required w/in 8 months of last furnishing services. On single-family residential projects, w/in 4 months.

Work on single-family residential projects, therefore, requires all liens get filed within 4 months of last furnishing. All other projects (including multi-family residential projects) require liens be filed within 8 months of last furnishing.

Which deadline applies if construction is being performed to convert a multi-family residential structure to a single-family residential structure?  That was the very interesting (but, albeit, rare) question before the Queens County Supreme Court in J.B. Custom Masonry & Concrete, Inc. v. Sutera. Hat tip to Vincent Pallaci for alerting us to this interesting case (Conversion of Two Family Home to Single Family Home Subject to 8 Month Lien Period).

The mechanics lien in question was recorded after the 4 month period. Therefore, if the 4 month deadline applied, the lien would be late. The lien claimants obviously argued that the 8 month period applied and the filing was timely.

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New York Mechanics Lien Deadline Depends on Nature of Project At Start of Construction

Candidly speaking, I think that this case could have reasonably gone either way. On the one hand, the project was a project on a multi-family residential structure when it began…however, at the end, it was a single-family residential structure. If you think about the nature of construction projects, the project “type” is usually dictated by what will result at the end of construction.  Many – if not most – projects actually start as just a tract of land.

The court ruled that the 8 month deadline applied, and therefore, that the nature of the project at the start overruled the nature of the ending product. Here is the relevant text from the ruling:

The defendant claims that the plaintiff failed to file the lien within the four month statute of limitations prescribed for single-family homes. However, although the defendant states in her affidavit that the she was using the premises as a one-family home at the time the plaintiff commenced work, based upon the affidavit of the architect who designed the alteration project, the premises was actually a two-family dwelling that was being converted into a single-family dwelling. The New York City Work Permit also indicates that the permit was for an alteration project and the application was to convert the premises to a one-family dwelling. Thus, even though the premises may have been used as a one-family dwelling at the time the project commenced, the evidence indicates that work being done by the contractor related to the conversion of a two-family dwelling. Thus, when the work began the premises constituted a multiple dwelling and the plaintiff properly served the notice within the applicable eight month statutory time period (see Griffin Bldg. & Constr. Corp. v RHD Constr. Corp., 133 Misc 2d 335 [Sup. Ct. Albany County. 1986][ the statute limits the application of the four month period to a single residence]).

This is an interesting decision, but one with little mass applicability, as the situation is rare. Nevertheless, it goes to demonstrate that the mechanics lien laws are a tricky lot, and that getting a mechanics lien claim invalidated in New York is an uphill battle.

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