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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>Can a material supply file a lien for materials supplied prior to the sale of a property? i.e. I purchased a property, and a material supplier delivered materials to a prior subcontractor for the prior owner. The deed has a section 13 lien law notice.

Can a material supply file a lien for materials supplied prior to the sale of a property? i.e. I purchased a property, and a material supplier delivered materials to a prior subcontractor for the prior owner. The deed has a section 13 lien law notice.

New YorkLien PriorityMechanics LienRight to Lien

Can a material supply file a lien for materials supplied prior to the sale of a property? i.e. I purchased a property, and a material supplier delivered materials to a prior subcontractor for the prior owner. The deed has a section 13 lien law notice.

1 reply

Jul 11, 2019
This is a great question, and one that has a crucial significance to a third-party purchaser. The general rule regarding whether or not a lien can be effective after the original owner sells the property is that it doesn't really matter - as long as the deadline by which the lien must be filed is met. If the mechanics lien claim is timely filed, most states have little sympathy for the third party buyer. The claim is usually effective against the property, and the third party must seek his or her remedy from the original owner who sold them the property. This is because a mechanics lien is, fundamentally, a claim against the property itself - the owner is just kind of along for the ride. And, if the property is improved, the property can still secure the amounts owed. However, there are exceptions to that general rule. In states where mechanics liens are limited to the "unpaid balance" this can be a bar to an effective lien after the property is sold. And, luckily enough, New York is an unpaid balance state. While a mechanics lien can be filed in New York at anytime within 8 months after last furnishing to the project (4 months for single family residential projects), the lien is only effective as to the dollars still controlled by the property owner and yet to be paid to the general contractor. So, practically speaking, a property owner selling a property to a third party usually has already paid out the entire contract amount to the prime contractor and thus insulated the property from a lien claim. If he or she has not, the third party buyer would have a very good claim against the owner because the owner would likely have made some type of misrepresentation in the documents. Note, however, that this only applies if the lien was not already filed prior to the purchase of the property. If the lien was recorded prior to the purchase, it will be enforceable against the property no matter who owns it, to the extent it was otherwise a valid and enforceable lien. Section 13 applies to lien priority, and is only applicable to a filed lien. However, in the event that there is a lien recorded against the property, Section 13 holds that the previously recorded mechanics lien is not only effective, but has priority over any mortgage or conveyance not recorded when the lien was filed.
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