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Can I still File the Lien if customer is in a lease?

South CarolinaMechanics Lien

We completed a project with the client and passed the final inspection and certificate of completion. Refusal to pay final bill. The customer is in a lease to the building and wanted to know if I can still file the lien in SC. The building owner consented to the upfit, but was not involved in the contract.

1 reply

May 10, 2021

When a tenant is the one commissioning the improvements, a lien may still be filed in most circumstances. But the question becomes whether the lien will attach to the property itself, or the tenant's leashold interest; which tends to be a fact-intensive discussion.

In South Carolina, there needs to be some specific consent or approval for the work granted from the owner to the tenant to allow claimants to file a lien against the property. Mere knowldege of the improvements isn't enough. It will ultimately depend on whether there was explicit consent; which given your question, might be applicable here. Furthermore, even if such consent is given, an owner in South Carolina may provide a Notice of Nonresponsibility to prevent liens from attaching to the property. 

Lastly, notwithstanding the previous statements, a lien may still be filed against the tenant/lessor's leashold interest. Sending a Notice of Intent to Lien to both the tenant and the property owner may be theuseful step. That way both parties are made aware of the payment problem, and their responses could provide valuable intel on the arrangement between the two, and could end up resolving the dispute before having to actually file a claim.

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