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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>Can a contractor file a lien if they have admitted to doing permit-able work without pulling proper permits? I have it in writing that they knowingly didn't pull the permits to insulate our exterior wall or redo our plumbing in the kitchen. We are in the process of filing a complaint with the state of Minnesota. Also, our new counter top had a defect in it and was replaced via warranty over a month after the rest of the project was completed - Does that day count as part of calculation when determining the 120 days to file a lien notice in Minnesota?

Can a contractor file a lien if they have admitted to doing permit-able work without pulling proper permits? I have it in writing that they knowingly didn't pull the permits to insulate our exterior wall or redo our plumbing in the kitchen. We are in the process of filing a complaint with the state of Minnesota. Also, our new counter top had a defect in it and was replaced via warranty over a month after the rest of the project was completed - Does that day count as part of calculation when determining the 120 days to file a lien notice in Minnesota?

MinnesotaLien DeadlinesRight to Lien

Can a contractor file a lien if they have admitted to doing permit-able work without pulling proper permits? I have it in writing that they knowingly didn't pull the permits to insulate our exterior wall or redo our plumbing in the kitchen. We are in the process of filing a complaint with the state of Minnesota and I spoke with the city building inspector and he said, obviously, he can't do an inspection at the end-would have to rip our walls open, if we made the contractor pull the permits. We also started an insurance claim with the general contractors agent for damages the subcontractors did to our window, paint, carpet and chipped counter top. We originally deducted the cost of these items based on estimates we received - except the counter top as it can't be patched and I don't want to necessarily replace it since we've got an under mount sink and a seam that the installers did an amazing job on - I just deducted an amount since he wasn't willing to even address it, we asked him to send us an adjusted final invoice which he is refusing so I contacted his agent to start a claim. Also, our new counter top had a defect in it and was replaced via warranty over a month after the rest of the project was completed - Does that day count as part of calculation when determining the 120 days to file a lien notice?

1 reply

Nov 30, 2018
That's a good question. First, it's worth noting that even when the underlying claim might not be invalid, a mechanics lien can typically be filed. County recorder offices typically have neither the authority nor the bandwidth to investigate each claim made. However, that does not mean that the claim must be paid or that it cannot be removed. Further, when a claimant files an improper lien, they could potentially be responsible for the costs associated with removing that lien, and if the lien is deemed to have been fraudulently filed, then more penalties could come into play. Anyway, regarding whether the failure to secure necessary permits will prevent the ability to lien, nothing in the Minnesota mechanics lien statute explicitly prohibits filing a lien due to a contractor's failure to pull permits. However, often, state contractor license rules will impose certain penalties upon contractors who fail to obtain the necessary licensure or property permit their jobs. Potentially, a contractor's failure to permit a job could result in penalties against them and, depending on state laws, result in the forfeiture of amounts already paid/cancelling amounts that will due to them. Consulting with a local construction attorney that is familiar with the ins-and-outs with the rules and penalties surrounding Minnesota contractor licensing and permitting would be helpful here. They should be able to provide more clarity on what may be owed the contractor, and thus, what that contractor might be entitled to lien. Regarding the timeframe for filing a Minnesota lien - in calculating the mechanics lien deadline, Minnesota courts will disregard “items of labor or material which are nominal or insignificant in amount and furnished for the sole purpose of extending the time for filing the lien.” However, unlike other states, Minnesota does not appear to prohibit warranty or punch-list work from establishing a last furnishing date. Thus, if work is not nominal, insignificant, or done merely to extend the timeline for filing a lien, that work might serve as a valid date from which to base the timeline for a Minnesota lien - even when that work was corrective in nature.
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