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As a plumbing company, we provided services acting as a general contractor in an unlicensed jurisdiction.

New YorkRight to Lien

We provided services that we were unpaid for. The work was done in NYC for 2 residences. Our business partner who is the licensed Master Plumber in NYC did the work on our behalf. We have in our possession signed contracts which are payable to our company and paid our business partner from our monies for the work that was done. We have not received payment from the firm which hired us and also have outstanding balances on work that was billed directly to homeowner. If we are not a licensed GC in NYC but the plumber who performed the work is licensed in NYC are we still able to place a mechanics lien on the two residences the work was performed in order to attempt to collect the unpaid balances?

1 reply

Jul 12, 2018
That's a good question, and it's hard to provide a definitive response without further understanding of the business relationship mentioned above. Anyway, New York is pretty particular about licensing. If a lien claimant is required to have a license, that claimant must be licensed in order to validly file a mechanics lien. Further, regardless of the state involved, when construction is taking place on a residence, tighter licensing requirements will typically apply. In New York, if the general contractor lacks a home improvement contractor’s license (even if the job is not entirely residential in nature), that contractor is not allowed a lien on the property and is forbidden form filing a breach of contract action. Thus, pursuing some other method of recovery - such as potentially an action for unjust enrichment - might be more appropriate. Ultimately, though, the best way to clarify what options will be available moving forward would be to consult a local New York construction attorney so they can review the facts, circumstances, and documentation that relate to the claim for nonpayment. Plus, they will be able to take a deeper look into the business relationships involved on the project to better determine whether a lien claim would, in fact, be appropriate.
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