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can a contractor file a mechanic's lean if no work/improvments were performed/made?

TexasRight to Lien

I had a lawn care company come out to shoot grades for my lot, they claim they did and charged me for it but I can not prove that they actually did. The survey drawing they provided me was after three months and it was nothing like we talked about or agreed to. The 'survey' they provided was not to scale and was inaccurate and based on questioning the vendor I feel very strongly the measurements were never taken. I disputed the charge on the CC I used and the vendor is not threatening to file a lien against me. Does he have grounds since no improvements were made?

1 reply

Aug 1, 2018
First, it's worth noting that regardless of the validity of the underlying lien, a mechanics lien may actually be filed in most cases. County recorder offices typically have neither the bandwidth nor the authority to scrutinize each individual claim. Of course, if a lien claim is fraudulently filed by a claimant, serious penalties could come into play - and reminding a claimant of that fact often goes a long way toward fending off fraudulent lien claims. Anyway - as to the validity of a potential lien, the general rule is that mechanics liens are typically not valid when filed for work where an improvement to the property does not actually occur. In Texas, however, it appears that a mechanics lien may be filed by an architect, engineer, or surveyor who prepares a plan or plat via written contract in conjunction with either an actual improvement or merely a proposed improvement. Still, there's a valid question as to (1) Whether a lawn care service's alleged "surveying" would qualify as a surveyor under the Texas Property Code (which is home to the TX lien laws), or (2) Whether this proposed (but not completed) "improvement" is even the type that would give rise to lien rights. As for the first point - unfortunately, it's unclear - the Texas Property Code is silent as to the definition of a "surveyor". However, the type of surveyor typically conceived in a mechanics lien statute is something a little more serious than a lawn care servicer "surveying" a property - often, this will mean determining and marking the specific limitations of a property. As for the second point, that may be a little more clear. A Texas "surveyor" will have lien rights " connection with the actual or proposed design, construction, or repair of improvements on real property or the location of the boundaries of real property..." In the definitions section of the Teas lien laws, an "improvement" includes "(A) abutting sidewalks and streets and utilities in or on those sidewalks and streets; (B) clearing, grubbing, draining, or fencing of land; (C) wells, cisterns, tanks, reservoirs, or artificial lakes or pools made for supplying or storing water; (D) pumps, siphons, and windmills or other machinery or apparatuses used for raising water for stock, domestic use, or irrigation; and (E) planting orchard trees, grubbing out orchards and replacing trees, and pruning of orchard trees." The portions bolded above appear to be the "improvements" that might be relatively associated with surveying a property for lawn care improvements - but it's likely a stretch to say that anything described in the definition of "improvement" would apply to the typical lawn care service. Thus, a claimant who has surveyed a property merely to determine which lawn care services might be most appropriate for the space would likely not be able to file a valid mechanics lien - especially when those services were never provided.
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