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customer won't pay bill in full for work that is complete can i file a lien

South CarolinaRight to Lien

We replaced cedar shingles on front and rear of home. Made necessary deck repairs and roof repairs and painting. Customer sent check for what they thought it was worth and refuses to pay remainder of bill, however, we paid out of our check book for all materials and subcontractors

1 reply

Nov 27, 2018
That's a good question, and I'm sorry you've found yourself in that situation. Everyone deserves to be paid what they've earned. As a general matter, when a party performs authorized construction work that results in the permanent improvement to private property, that unpaid party will typically have the right to lien. In South Carolina, mechanics liens offer broad protection to potential claimants. Contractors, subcontractors, laborers, and other parties who furnish labor and/or materials used in the “erection, alteration, or repair of a building or structure” or “for the improvement of real property” are entitled to mechanics lien protection. If the claimant's customer is someone other than the property owner, it's important that the claimant send a Notice of Furnishing Labor or Materials prior to filing and serving their lien claim. Without first sending that notice, a subsequent lien claim made by a subcontractor or some other party down the chain will likely be invalid. Further, the deadline to file a South Carolina lien claim is very strict, too. In South Carolina, a claim of lien must be filed no later than 90 days after the last day on which the claimant furnished labor or materials to the project. You can learn more about South Carolina's lien and notice requirements here: South Carolina Lien & Notice FAQs. Finally, it's worth noting that before a mechanics lien is filed (as long as there's still time before the deadline), there's another tool that can help compel payment - a Notice of Intent to Lien. A Notice of Intent to Lien serves as a lien warning, stating that unless payment is made and made soon a mechanics lien will be filed on the property. When a potential claimant sends this notice to the property owner and their customer, it shows the claimant means business about getting paid and that they're not afraid to use a lien claim to secure payment. Considering the drastic nature of mechanics liens, the mere threat of lien is often enough to get the job done. Plus, if payment still isn't made, a claimant can still proceed with their lien as long as they're within the deadline. You can learn more about the Notice of Intent to Lien tool here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One?
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