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Can we file a lien in NJ

New JerseyMechanics Lien

We are a California-based interior design firm with a NJ-based hospitality client. We provided design & purchasing services for the client as part of their remodel/reopening. They are now refusing to pay some of our invoices. Can we file a mechanics lien?

20 replies

Aug 29, 2017
There are a couple different potential issues that need to be examined in order to determine whether or not a mechanics lien can be claimed. The first is whether the work undertaken is work that is covered by mechanics lien protection. In order for a work to give rise to a mechanics lien right in New Jersey, the work must be an "improvement" to property - which is specifically defined by NJ statute.

"'Improvement' means any *actual or proposed physical changes to real property* resulting from the provision of work, services, or material by a contractor , subcontractor, or supplier pursuant to a contract, whether or not such physical change is undertaken, and includes the construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, renovation, demolition or removal of any building or structure, any addition to a building or structure, or any construction or fixture necessary or appurtenant to a building or structure for use in conjunction therewith."

Accordingly, there must have been physical changes to the property - since you mentioned there was a remodel, there was likely some physical change, but if the changes/purchasing services were limited to moveable property and furnishings rather than something pursuant to a physical change, it would be difficult for a lien to apply. That said, design work is sufficient to give rise to a mechanics lien claim.

There are also strict timing requirements in order to claim a lien. While GCs are generally not required to send a preliminary notice on NJ if the project is not residential, the lien must be filed within 90 days from the last date of providing labor and materials.

In many cases, where there may be some argument about the ultimate validity/enforceability of a lien it is worth filing to see if it prompts payment, and examined more closely in order to determine if it needs to be released if it does not and is challenged.
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