Can I file a lien against a construction contractor that did not pay me for accounting services that I provided to him?

1 year ago

I was hired to provide consulting services which we agreed on a rate per month. I began the engagement and received my first payment about 60 days into it. I continued to work for another few months with no payment. I repeatedly asked for payment and finally stopped working due to non-payment. I hired a collection agency about a month after my last interaction with the contractor. It has been almost a year since I last worked for them. The word on the street is that the contractor is on the ropes and probably won’t be around much longer.

Chief Legal Officer Levelset

Not getting paid appropriately, and on time, is a continuing problem in the construction industry. In many cases, securing the amount due can be accomplished through a mechanics lien. However, there are limitations to the applicability of mechanics lien law.

Mechanics liens are security instruments granted to construction industry participants who, through furnishing labor or material, improve property. In Maine, mechanics lien protection is afforded to “whoever performs labor or furnishes labor or materials” to the construction, alteration, repair, or moving of a building, an appurtenance to a building, a wharf, or a pier. Specifically included in these protections are surveyors, architects, engineers, real estate licensees, landscapers, and sellers of land/improvements or structures.”

In Maine, like other states, providing services to a party in the construction industry – but not specifically construction services – isn’t the type of work that qualifies for mechanics lien protection. Additionally, mechanics liens are encumbrances against the improved property itself – not any individual involved in the improvement. Accordingly, a mechanics lien may not be filed against a contractor irrespective of an improved property.

When mechanics liens are not the appropriate remedy, there are other paths that may be explored, including filing a lawsuit to recover, collection agencies, arbitration, etc. The usefulness of such remedies may be limited if the non-paying party is going out of business, however.

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