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Can a contractor put a lien against my home?

OhioConstruction ContractMechanics Lien

I contacted a gentleman who did repairs on my roof. He worked for a company called Storm Service Solutions in Cortland, Ohio when he did my roof. I texted him and asked him if he did bathroom repairs, he said yes. He came to my house and told me it would cost $1,250 (cash only) to repair what needed to be fixed. After a few more text messages asking how he could guarantee that he would come back to do the work once I gave him half down (the other half due upon completion of the work). He said he would give me a written contract and a receipt for the money I gave him. This all happened from 2 p.m to 6 p.m Friday, March 13, 2020. I agreed to have him do the work through a text message for him to do the work. I told him I would have half the money on Saturday morning. At 8 a.m. on saturday morning I texted him to postpone the repairs, because the county I live in closed all schools due to the coronavirus. I told him I wanted to wait and see if my job was secure. He said in text, I could not cancel because he already special ordered the materials. I asked him to cancel the order he said no. He showed up to my house and him and my husband got into a yelling match. My husband told him to leave the property. They guy called the police and said my husband verally assulted him. Then a few hours later I received another text telling me that if I did not pay the $403.26 for the materials he ordered he would file a lien against my home for $5,500 which includes interest, legal fees, breach of contract, and verbal assault. I told him there is no breach of contract because I never signed a contract and never gave him any money. He then texted that because I agreed to have him do the work through a text message, that was the contract. Furthermore, he said not to contact him again unless it was to make payment arrangements for the $403.26 to be paid in full for the materials. Can he do this???? Everything was done through text messages!

3 replies

Mar 18, 2020
Mechanics lien rights exist when work has been performed but not paid for which permanently improves the project property. If a contractor hasn't performed any work or furnished any materials to the project - then they won't be entitled to file a mechanics lien, and they certainly won't be able to do so for the entire price of the contract. If materials were specially fabricated for the project, and if those materials aren't readily resellable or reusable for other jobs, then mechanics lien rights may arise for a contractor who's secured those materials to use for the project. But, if the materials are readily obtainable, then that shouldn't give rise to lien rights. While it may be a moot point - it's also worth mentioning that Ohio construction businesses don't need to have a written contract in order for mechanics lien rights to be present.

Text messages can create a contract and other claims could be available

With all of the above being said, it's worth noting that text messages can absolutely create a binding contract. In fact, even verbal agreements can constitute binding contracts. So, if there was an offer and acceptance, it's possible that a contract was formed. As a result, breaching that contract or terminating it could give rise to some level of liability. Though, that liability would have to be tied to the actual injuries suffered as a result of the breach - potentially, the cost of services already provided or materials already secured. Further, just because mechanics lien claims might not be available doesn't mean some other payment claim won't be on the table. So, it might still be worthwhile to try and settle or resolve the dispute. Of course, if little work was done or if little material was secured for the job, then full payment isn't a realistic expectation - and paying for the materials actually obtained for the job might be more reasonable. Though, if the materials are being paid for, it's worth mentioning the owner should be able to at least keep those materials and letting a contractor double-dip wouldn't be very equitable.
2 people found this helpful
Mar 18, 2020
Thank you Matthew Viator. There was no offer in the text messages. Just me agreeing to have 625 for him the next morning. Would there be a liability for me (the owner) if all I wanted to do was postpone it for a few weeks because of the coronavirus. I didn't want a stranger in my home because me and my husband have respiratory problems.
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