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Customer Not Answering The Door To Sign Certified Notice Of Intent To File Illinois Mechanic's Lien

IllinoisNotice of Intent to Lien

I have a real estate investor customer who will not answer the door for the mailman to accept my certified U.S. Mail letter of Notice To File Mechanic's Lien. The work was completed about 90 days so I have 30 days left to file. I have proof that the customer viewed my final Quickbooks invoice and also viewed the Notice Of Intent that I had attached exactly 10 days ago, ZLien also sent me proof that the customer opened their email 10 days ago and viewed the Notice Of Intent. Illinois law sounds pretty clear that the notice must be received by certified U.S. Mail, I'm prepared to file the actual mechanic's lien this Friday but I don't want to waste money if my mechanic's lien won't be valid in court if it goes that far. To make matters worse, my customer has the house up for sale and realtor open house every weekend, this house is going to sell fast and I feel that I need to act very soon or I will never see a penny of the $6800 that is owed to my company. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

1 reply

Jul 25, 2018
I'm sorry to hear about that - it's unfortunately pretty common for individuals to attempt to dodge service. First, it's worth looking at whether an Illinois Notice of Intent to Lien is even required in this situation. In Illinois, a Notice of Intent to Lien is required for parties who did not contract with the property owner. But if the party attempting to send notice was hired by the owner of the property, a Notice of Intent to Lien will not be necessary. Still, sending a Notice of Intent to Lien is typically a wise move by those who may need to file a lien for recovery.

Anyway, regarding service of the Notice of Intent, the Illinois lien statute actually contemplates a situation like the one described above - § 60/25 "Notice to Persons Not Found or Not Residing In County". This section applies "In all cases where the owner of record, his or her agent, architect, or superintendent or lending agency, if known, cannot, upon reasonable diligence, be found in the county in which said improvement is made..." Anyway, if an owner cannot be served, a claimant may provide notice by actually filing a claim for lien under § 60/25(a) within 90 days after the completion of the contract or 90 days after the date of completion or 90 days after the completion of work (if additional work/material beyond the contract is necessary).

The claim must be verified by affidavit and must "consist of a brief statement of his or her contract or demand, and the balance due after allowing all credits, and a sufficient correct description of the lot, lots or tract of land to identify the same. An itemized account shall not be necessary." Such a filing will actually fulfill the requirement for sending a Notice of Intent to Lien (if it applies). Further, if this filing actually fulfills the statutory requirements of an Illinois mechanics lien, the filing will actually also serve as a lien. To quote section 25 of the statute again: "if such notice complies with Section 7 of this Act it shall also be deemed a claim for lien recorded pursuant to Section 7 of this Act."

Regardless of the above, though, if a lien were filed and the sole reason that a Notice of Intent to Lien was not served was because the recipient was dodging the notice, it would be unlikely that a court would invalidate a lien claim as long as there was some proof that the recipient was intentionally dodging service. Further, proof that the recipient received a copy of the Notice of Intent to Lien via an invoice and via an email that were both opened/viewed might also help in this endeavor. Typically a court will not favor manipulating service rules.
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