Can I still file this lien after 3 years?

1 week ago

I was renting a home from a person and do contract work for the individual as well when the owner first purchased their new home. Prior to me being compensated for all the work being done on the home for 2 plus years the owner illegally evicted me and informed not only would she be kicking me out within the week but also not be paying me for the work, myself and others did for her over that time. Originally told she would flip the house and share profit. Never happened, house has never been put up for sale. I want to file a mechanics lien against her for numerous projects and different jobs done because I think at this time she is going to put the house up for sale at which time I will never see any compensation. Can I still put the lien on the house and can I also charge her for all the consulting work picking out of various appliances and styles and interior design consulting that I did along with all the work performed? I think the total would be close to 25-50k? I also never had a contract lease with her for renting there does this change anything?

Senior Legal Associate Levelset

Generally, mechanics liens have a strict deadline – a Texas mechanics lien on residential property must be filed by the 15th day of the 3rd month after the work was completed or ceased. So, if years have passed since the last work was performed on the job, the deadline to file a mechanics lien has likely passed.

But, even in a situation where the deadline to file a mechanics lien has not yet passed, there may be some hurdles to filing a mechanics lien. For one, lien rights are generally available for those who have performed construction-related work which provided a permanent improvement to the project property. That work must be authorized in order for it to be lienable, and things like ordinary or regular maintenance, generally, cannot be liened.

With that being said, a Texas mechanics lien secures payment for “the labor done or material furnished for the construction or repair” of the project property. So, if labor or materials were put into the improvement of property, then mechanics lien rights may well be on the table. Note, though, that interior design work will generally not be lienable unless there was some physical, permanent improvement made to the space. And, note also that preparation of plans for further improvement will generally only be available for licensed architects and engineers.

Finally, note that Texas doesn’t always require a written contract in order to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien claim. In fact, written contracts are generally only required for homestead residential projects, and for design professionals (on all project types).

For more background on Texas mechanics liens, this is a great resource: Texas Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs.

Texas constitutional liens

With all of the above in mind, note that Texas contractors hired directly by the property owner will typically have the right to file a constitutional lien in addition to mechanics lien rights. Constitutional liens arise automatically – they don’t have nearly the same formalities that mechanics liens do. For more background on constitutional liens, another Expert Center question and answer provides some great insight: Texas Constitutional Lien Rights/Process…

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