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Can I perfect my lien in small claims court?

IdahoLicensesLien Foreclosure

I filed a mechanics lien about a month ago (within 90 days of completion), getting ready to sue in small claims court. for rehab work on an investment property in Idaho. Respondent is telling me that unless I'm a licensed contractor, I cannot lien or sue her, plus it's a misdemeanor! Is she right? It was supposed to be a joint venture agreement, I provided the labor, she purchased the property and materials, we were to split the profits at sale but she decided to keep it as a rental. We are only talking $3,266 and she's offered me half of that, $1633. Is it worth going after the whole thing or could I get in trouble for not being a licensed contractor

1 reply

Feb 26, 2019
I'm sorry to hear about that. There's a lot going on here, and I'll take this step by step. First, generally, mechanics liens are enforced in the district court for the county in which work was performed rather than via small claims court. Second, regarding licensure, if the work performed requires licensure, Idaho claimants must be licensed in order to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien. Further, as mentioned above, an unlicensed contractor will not be able to sue for unpaid amounts unless some exemption to the licensing rules applies (and those exemptions can be found at 54-5205 of the Idaho Contractor Registration Act). Note that where a contractor has some ownership stake in the property being improved, an exemption may very well apply. This article does a great job of breaking down potential penalties for unlicensed Idaho contractors. As for whether it's worth it to pursue amounts owed and unpaid, the answer to that question varies depending on a multitude of factors - and each business must make that decision for themselves based on reasoning important to them. However, consulting with an Idaho construction attorney could go a long way toward clarifying potential outcomes, plus, they'll be able to review any documentation, communications, or other info that may affect the circumstances. At that point, they will be able to advise on how best to proceed.
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