Can an hourly laborer file mechanics lien even if I have paid him in full?

3 months ago

I am a home owner who paid an hourly laborer in full for all hours worked then told him I have no more work for him. His work was very shoddy, he padded his hours, took 5 smoke breaks an hour, was very pushy and even started to work on things I did not hire him to do. There is work to be completed, but due to budget I will be completing myself. And fixing all his screw ups. I paid him in full for all the hours he “worked”. I do not have the money to pay him to do the rest of the work. So basically he has been laid off. He’s now threatening a mechanic’s lien. Can he do that?

Senior Legal Associate Levelset

Laborers in Maine are entitled to file a mechanics lien if they go unpaid for work that permanently improves the property they’re working on. However, they’ll only be able to file a mechanics lien to the extent that they’re unpaid. So, if a laborer has been paid in full – or even overpaid – then they won’t be entitled to file a mechanics lien.

Note, though, that doesn’t mean a mechanics lien cannot actually be filed – it means that a lien that does get filed would ultimately be invalid and unenforceable. County recorders offices typically have neither the bandwidth nor the authority to investigate each lien claim that’s filed. So, a would-be lien claimant could go rogue and file an improper or even fraudulent lien.

While it can be hard to force a lien claimant to not file their claim, often, when an owner explains why a filed lien would be improper and/or notifies the would-be claimant that the lien will be fought tooth an nail – that claimant might be more amenable to standing down. Demanding that a lien claimant
abandon their prospective claim might be more effective when sent via attorney letter, too.

I think these resources might also be helpful for you:
(1) I Just Received a Notice of Intent to Lien – What Should I Do Now?
(2) A Mechanics Lien Was Filed on My Property – What Do I Do Now?

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