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Can I as an employee file to put a lien on a property I did work on but haven't received a paycheck.

North DakotaMechanics LienRecovery OptionsRight to Lien

I worked for a construction company and I haven't been paid at all.

1 reply

Jun 7, 2019
That's a good question, and I'm sorry to hear that you've gone unpaid for your work. Based on the text of North Dakota's mechanics lien statute, it appears that any individual who has performed construction work which improved real property but has gone unpaid for their work could be eligible to file a mechanics lien.

§ 35-27-02 of the statute states that "Any person that improves real estate, whether under contract with the owner of such real estate or under contract with any agent, trustee, contractor, or subcontractor of the owner, has a lien upon the improvement and upon the land on which the improvement is situated..."

§ 35-27-01(6) defines a "person" as "every natural person, fiduciary, association, corporation, or limited liability company."

So, putting those two together, it would seem that any person who has provided work to improve property but gone unpaid for that work would ultimately be entitled to mechanics lien rights - even if that person provided work as an employee.

Of course, it's also worth noting that when payment is coming slowly (or not coming at all), merely threatening to file a mechanics lien might lead to recovery. By sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien, a claimant can let their employer, the project's GC, and the property owner know that they've been unpaid, and that they're prepared to file a mechanics lien to recover payment, if push comes to shove. Because mechanics liens are such a drastic remedy, the mere proposition of a lien filing can get the wheels moving on payment. Plus, by sending the warning to a property owner, that owner is likely to put pressure on higher tiered parties to ensure that payment is made and a lien is avoided.

If you have other questions about mechanics lien requirements in North Dakota, this resource should be valuable: North Dakota Mechanics Lien and Notice Overview, FAQs, and Statutes.
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