Can I file a mechanics lien for $1140.00
I need to collect $1,140.00 from a seller for whom structural repairs were made to his townhouse. The house is worth around $250,000.00
Can I do this?
Maryland’s mehcanics lien rules are unlike any other state’s. In Maryland, when property is being repaired, rebuilt, or improved (rather than being newly built), the work must improve the property by 15% of its value in order to give rise to mechanics lien rights. So, for many relatively small jobs on existing improvements, mechanics lien rights won’t be available.
For more background on Maryland mechanics lien rights: Maryland Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs.
Other recovery options outside of the mechanics lien process
If you determine that a mechanics lien might not be appropriate for your situation, there are always other options for recovery.
Invoice reminders and payment demands
Sending something as simple as an invoice reminder can often lead to payment. In many cases, escalating a payment dispute isn’t actually necessary – a simple reminder that payment is owed and being requested may be enough.
Additionally, escalating the dispute a bit with a payment demand letter might also lead to payment without having to take more drastic action. A demand letter that includes specific legal threats and puts pressure on a customer to pay what’s owed will often do the trick.
Legal claims can lead to recovery, too
When payment isn’t made, the unpaid party may have a few different tools to use for recovery, if a claim becomes necessary.
For one, payment is a crucial part of the contract – so, failure to make payment may well result in a breach of contract. Alternatively, if there’s no actual contract in place, pursuing an unjust enrichment claim may be an option. And, Maryland also has prompt payment laws on the books, which mandate payments be made in a timely fashion. So, a claimant may be able to pursue interest or other damages in addition to what they’re owed. Much like with mechanics liens and Notices of Intent to Lien, the mere threat to pursue an available legal remedy may often be enough to get payment talks moving in the direction.
Finally, for the most clarity on what recovery tools may be available, reaching out to a local Maryland construction lawyer can help. They’ll be able to more thoroughly review your circumstances, documentation, and other relevant info and advise on how best to proceed.