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Can someone put a mechanics lien on a building if they didn't have a contract to do the work?

PennsylvaniaMechanics Lien

I am part of a collective that owns a building in Pennsylvania. A member of the collective did some work on the building but was not authorized by the collective to do the work and there was no agreement to pay him for the work. He was asked to leave the collective but we are afraid he might put a mechanics lien on the building for the work he did. Is that something that he would have a legal standing to do?

1 reply

Dec 26, 2018
That's a fair question. Generally, mechanics liens secure payment for amounts owed based on an authorized work of improvement that improves real property. When work performed has not been authorized by the property owner(s) and when payment isn't expected as a result of the performed work, typically, a mechanics lien is not the appropriate solution - and a lien filing resulting from such work will likely be invalid and unenforceable. Further, under § 1301 of the Pennsylvania mechanics lien statute, the right to lien exists "for the payment of all debts due by the owner to the contractor or by the contractor to any of his subcontractors for labor or materials furnished in the erection or construction, or the alteration or repair of the improvement..." So, where an owner has taken it upon themselves to perform work/have work performed, debts allegedly owed to an owner by the other owners (as a result of that work) do not seem to fit into the description of who has lien rights under Pennsylvania's lien statute. Instead, that section states that debt owed from an owner (defined, under § 1201, as "an owner in fee, a tenant for life or years or one having any other estate in or title to property") to a contractor (defined as one "who, by contract with the owner, express or implied, erects, constructs, alters or repairs an improvement or any part thereof or furnishes labor, skill or superintendence thereto; or supplies or hauls materials, fixtures, machinery or equipment reasonably necessary for and actually used therein; or any or all of the foregoing, whether as superintendent, builder or materialman...")
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